Summary: A sermon to share with the congregation the need for serious and steady prayer concerning our church’s annual budget and the giving of the church.
The internet is a wonderful source of information; although some is trivial, some useless, some is motivational, and some mind-numbing. Just for fun I went to a site called "Global Rich List." On this site there is a block where you insert your annual income, click on another button and it will tell you where you rank in monetary wealth within the world population. As of Wednesday afternoon, when I researched this, there were 6,937,726,825 people in the world and there were 307,280,298 in the United States. When I keyed in my annual income at Global Rich List I was surprised to find Ok and I are the 58,641,004th richest people in the world. That puts us in the top 1% of the world’s richest population and around the top 19% of the American population.
Here are some more staggering statistics I came across. If we have food in the refrigerator, clothes on our back, a roof over our head, and a dry place to sleep, we are richer than 75% of the people in the world. If we have money in the bank, in our wallets, and spare change in a dish, we are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. 3 billion people in the world live on less than $2 per day, while 1.3 billion live on less than $1 per day; and 70% of those living on less than $1 per day are women with children. Rutherford County may be the 13th most economically depressed county in the nation, yet we are still wealthier than a large majority of the world population.
When we think of how our money may be used here are some ideas. $8 will buy us 15 apples or it will buy 25 fruit trees for a farmer in Honduras to plant and sell the fruit to support his family. $40 will buy a DVD box set of the popular television show "Friends" or a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti. $80 will buy us a new cell telephone with camera and text capabilities or it will help support a new mobile health clinic to give medical assistance to AIDS orphans in Uganda. $2400 will buy us a second generation, 50 inch High Definition TV or it can provide schooling for an entire generation of children in an Angolan village. What our money is capable of doing depends heavily on where our priorities lie.
Matthew Henry says of wealth, "Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of GOD, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from GOD, not from perishing enjoyments." Money is a temporal thing. We all like to have it available; probably, many of us think we do not have sufficient amounts to maintain our lives in the manner we desire. But, is that the real truth of the matter? Aren’t most of just a bit envious of the things of others and try our best to purchase one similar or even a bit better? Matthew Henry says "worldly wealth is a withering thing." Why do we break our backs working in order to acquire a flower, which is beautiful today, but tomorrow will be withered and lifeless; just so much trash to be discarded? Worldly wealth is the same; gone before we realize it. A perfect example has been the past several months of the "economic downturn" in this country. The stock market has lost many people’s pension savings, homes have been foreclosed, and jobs are almost nonexistent. Money seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate, yet we still seem to be able to purchase necessities as before.
James tells us, "My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing." Our Christian faith teaches us to look at these times of trial with joy because they are tests of our ability to endure all things. Yet, how can we "consider it nothing but joy" when our economic situation is so disastrous? Remember I said at the beginning Ok and I are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. Even if we were only making minimum wage and working 40 hours per week, we would still be in the top 12.5% of the world’s richest people. If there are 50 people in this sanctuary, we would be one of the 6 richest persons here; 44 people in this congregation are economically worth less than we are. Let us rejoice in GOD’s grace toward us and seek happiness in these trials which challenge our livelihood.