On Purpose

The Gospel writer Luke remembers a parable from Jesus in which he says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower?  Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

The inference, of course, is only an unwise person—a fool—would NOT first count the cost.  And the local townspeople would not have to look at a partially finished tower and be reminded daily of what a fool you were.

As we continue in our season of Stewardship the same could be said of us. If anyone wants to be more generous than they are right now, it’s not going to happen accidentally; it’s going to take thoughtful planning, it’s going to be intentional, it’s going to be on purpose.

Giving is ultimately a spiritual issue.  On the surface, how we use our money may look like a spending issue, but I remind us all that Jesus said, “Where your heart is, there your treasure is also.”  And let’s be clear—the spiritual issue at stake is “ENOUGH.” What is enough for me?

The human condition—maybe this is what we mean by “sin”—an insatiable desire for more.  I never feel like I have enough. Somehow I feel I will be happier if I can just have that new car, that jet ski, that house.

As a very young pastor I was appointed to Hendersonville 1st UMC to work with Ben Alexander (who was one of Belle Meade’s dearest pastors).  I was pretty fresh out of seminary, two daughters and hardly a nickel to my name. Hendersonville’s church was filled with young couples, most of whom were in sales.  The housing and lifestyle in Hendersonville was comparable to what you would find in Brentwood. I found myself getting sucked in to the lifestyle—wanting more and not being anywhere near able to afford it.  It caused me to feel “less than.”

Please understand, those were all fine people.  The fault wasn’t with them—it was with me. Their careers afforded them certain luxuries I simply couldn’t have.  But at no time did we ever NOT have enough.

Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote, “Learn to want what you have and soon you will have what you want.”

Generosity is the characteristic of a faithful person.  It doesn’t happen by accident. We give on purpose and with intention.  This Sunday, the 27th, and next Sunday, the 3rd of November, you will have the opportunity to make your commitment to the church for the coming year.  For some of us, we find meaning and joy in “proportional giving”—the tithe or somewhere on the way toward the tithe. Before I was able to tithe, I made a conscious decision to get started and so I committed 5%.  And as I got more comfortable I was able to move to 6% and then 7% and so on. Maybe that would work for you.

Others will base their giving on other factors.  No one is going to try and tell you what you should give.  I ask only that you do so as a spiritual matter and that you do it on purpose.