This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is from Luke. In Luke 21:5-6, Jesus is responding to the disciples asking if he was impressed with the church building that was constructed.
I’ll never forget the first time we walked into the brand new building the church constructed in 1991. Moving out of an old facility, and into freshly minted carpeted floors, and brightly painted walls, we were like children on Christmas morning. We were able to go from 4 services to 2, and the children had ample spaces for church school. Everything was clean and new. Like it was yesterday, I remember John, one of our associate pastors, speaking at the opening service. He said something to the effect that the new building was great, but it is not for worshiping us, but Jesus. And, although we were to take good care of it, we were not going to get upset if someone spilled coffee. These things will happen, and is not important. What John was communicating to me that morning, was that Jesus was to clean up our lives and we were not to worship the building.
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” Luke 21:5-6
Does stewardship involve caring for homes, businesses and church buildings that we construct? It doesn’t seem like Jesus was very impressed at all about the temple in Jerusalem. Reading Matthew 23:27-28, he is more concerned with what is inside the church; you and me. Furthermore, he cares less about our house and yard, and more about what is going on inside of us; in our minds and hearts. Our first call is to steward these things, not our material possessions. When believers neglect what’s most important, the sad fact is that buildings will eventually be destroyed or re-used for something else. You only have to look at abandoned businesses and churches in the inner city, and the Crystal Cathedral going belly-up, to witness this fact.
Does stewardship of material blessings have eternal ramifications: Many Christians make the assumption that since everything will eventually be destroyed and made new (Revelation 21:1-2), then we don’t have to worry about maintaining buildings or the environment. This is tragically wrong. Matthew 25:23 is one of the concluding sentences of the Parable of the Talents, indicating that how well we steward and work with temporary things, says something about our character and integrity. These two things do last into eternity, and have reward.
Do we worry too much about buildings, especially our homes? If I have a regret as a father, it would to have been more present like Mary and less like Martha (read Luke 10:38-42). If I had less concern about our house’s landscaping, remodeling and cleanliness, I would have had more energy and time for Jesus and my family. We have God’s grace in the messes of life, but we can’t ever get back lost opportunities from days past.
Are you a perfectionist? God is perfect, and loves order, shouldn’t our lives mirror that? Jesus didn’t worry much about appearances (read Isaiah 53:2). The home he grew up in was very modest. During his ministry, he had few belongings and only simple clothes and sandals. He was born during a messy time of civilization of unpaved roads, and lack of modern sanitation. Jesus came and provided grace, during a messy time in human development.
What does this have to do with Christian finances? Believers want to be more generous, and better at managing spending so that they can have less debt and more accumulated wealth. Change is hard. Materialism and perfectionism gets in the way. Worrying about the wrong things get in the way. Invite Jesus in to your finances, your plans and goals, and your priorities. Put your heart into his hands, and let him direct your paths (see Psalm 119:105). Take a moment to talk to Jesus about this.
*This Monday blog post is a chronological walk through of the four gospels, examining any verse that involves money and stewardship. This is the sixtieth post in this series.