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Stewardship: What's That in Your Hand? Exodus 4:2-5

By Marc L. Kirchoff
Yes, we save our money to meet our own needs -- and we must. We spend our money freely to provide the best life possible for our kids - and that is admirable. We save our money for retirement and special needs and rainy days -- and we should. But ask us to spend our money on God and his church? How dare we?

Dare we hear what the Bible says about our money? We do not want to hear it. Yet if we do, dare we give ten percent of our income to the church? Dare we follow Jesus' word to sell all that we have, give to the poor and follow Him? Dare we set aside an amount in keeping with our income so that special offerings will not have to be taken? Dare we give the last two cents we have to God?

"What is that in your hand? Throw it down." Moses held in his hand his most valuable possession. And he dared throw it down. It nearly scared him to death. The snake, of course, but just the thought of throwing it down nearly gave him a stroke.

But he did. And look what happened. It turned into a snake, and like most of us, Moses ran. (In being playful with the scriptures, we have to be careful not to read too much into the story. He ran because it was a snake. You and I would run, too!)

Then God asked him to pick it back up again. Now Moses and God had a little disagreement about which end he should grab.

"Pick it up by the tail."

"Excuse me?"

"Pick it up by the tail."

"Lord, I know its been a long time since you created these things. Perhaps you've forgotten that's it's not a good idea to pick up a snake by the tail."

"Pick it up by the tail."

"I can't. I-I don't want to."

We play the same game when it comes to giving. We know the Old Testament standard -- tithing. Ten percent, off the top, given to God. And we know Paul's New Testament word to "set aside an amount in keeping with your income" -- what we now call proportionate giving. And we hear stewardship sermons every year -- more than we want. Then we look at today's financial economy and society. We remember the Great Depression (now more than sixty years past). We think about things like recessions and market corrections. We look at the unemployment statistics. We think about the fact that economic upturns and downturns come about because of the insights and opinions of a single economist. And we panic.

It is not realistic to give ten percent to the church these days. To think of giving more than ten percent is impossible. We can't. We don't want to. We won't! Perhaps we think too much and believe too little.

Our decisions to keep more and give less say less about our financial savvy than they do about our faith. What we do with our money is the greatest indicator of our Christian commitment -- more so than how much time we spend doing church work, or how many visitors we invite to church, or how many good deeds we do. If you want to know what a person really values, what a person really believes in, read his or her checkbook ledger.

How do we really know that we will not have enough money if we tithe to the church? How do we know we cannot afford to increase our giving? We will not until and unless we step up in faith and try! Our future, economic and otherwise, is in the hands of one person, and His name is not Greenspan.

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