Summary: When you "mind your thoughts," you don't have anything to worry about.
Next Sunday is Stewardship Commitment Sunday. You and I recently received pledge cards from our Finance and Stewardship Committee, and they are asking us to make a commitment about what we will give in the year 2015. There will be a time set aside in next Sunday’s service for those of us who want to do so to bring our cards forward and place them on the Lord’s Table. If you prefer, you may also mail in your card, place it in the offering plate, or bring it by. We’ll take it any way we can get it.
I personally hope that everyone will pledge. Even if you have never filled out a card before, I encourage you to make a pledge of some amount. It could even be a dollar a week. Now, of course, that’s for those of you who have not pledged before. For the rest of us, we ought to pledge for 2015 to give at least what we are giving this year and, if possible, to raise our pledge.
At the beginning of this year, our Session approved a budget deficit of some 70,000 dollars. At the current moment, we are 81,000 dollars in the red. So, you can see, we need to step it up in the year ahead if we are not to lose ground.
This passage from Philippians is not, of course, a traditional stewardship text, but I think we can apply it to the practice of giving. This is especially true when comes to how we think about money and giving and such. Because that’s what this passage is about. It’s about how we think. It’s about what we let go on in our minds.
Paul says, “Do not worry about anything” (v. 6). And, of course, “anything” would include money, wouldn’t it? So what if we rephrased Paul’s words to say something like, “Do not worry about anything, including money”? Or, what if we just said, “Do not worry about money”?
Tall order, right? I’m afraid I have to confess to you that I probably worry about money more than anything else. As Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, I worry about the fact that we’re 81,000 dollars in the hole. I worry about what it means. I worry about what it says about how our people feel about the church.
Some years ago, Ed Draper was moderator of our Finance and Stewardship Committee, and he said something to the committee that I have never forgotten. He said, “Money never follows need; it always follows vision.” I think that’s true. I think that, if I were to get up here and tell you that we have an aging building and we need you to help us fund its maintenance and repairs – that would be true. Right? It is true. But it’s not very motivating.
Likewise, if I were to tell you that expenses are greater year to year – the cost of insurance and utilities and that sort of thing – it would be true. You know that. I don’t have to tell you. You live with these realities every day. If the church’s bills are going up, I’m sure yours are, too. So, while it’s true, it doesn’t inspire any of us to give.