“Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.” (1 Chronicles 29:6,7 KJV)
Did you know a talent of gold was about 75 pounds? 34.3 kilograms to be exact. Gold is currently running at around $1,400 per ounce and if you multiply this out, that seems like a lot of money. It brings to light one of the biggest items that Christians in America get mercilessly chastised for, and that is building funds. It may take a congregation 10 years to save up for what they need or they may go into debt for the next 15 years (or some combination). The sum total is then reported as though the plate was just passed around and the cash could have been spent elsewhere with so much greater impact. Sometimes it even gets reported as though that was the only thing the church spent money on for the entirety of it’s existence. Oh the trip lines that seem to come out of nowhere.
The fascinating thing about any large sum of money in the church is the way it separates the managers from those who are surrendered. It is not so much the direct love of money, as we are cautioned against in 1 Timothy 6:10, but that money is the liquid form of that which has value to us. Money is like sand in that it is a very versatile building supply. Money can be used in so many ways, and really it is not so much the more you have, but the percentage of what you have in your control. The greater influence that you have over the pool the more effectively you are able to insure it is efficiently spent and thus the more good that you are able to accomplish. Obviously, we all (or most all) want to do the most good. We just need to “help” each other focus on how the funds can be “best” spent. And yet in practice, this leaves an ever shrinking space for full out heart felt worship and surrender.
So what about stewardship? Reflecting on Luke 19:11-26, also known as the Parable of the ten minas, we find an often over looked element. What caused the man with only one mina to have only one mina? He never found anything worth giving his investment towards. I know that in some cases, it may seem like the best policy is to keep the money in your pocket, i.e. at a casino. Then again, David (in 1 Chronicles 29) and apparently the other two stewards understood that all they had originated with God and therefore there was good to be found in pouring out what they had with a full intent of glorifying God. Notice there is no detail on how the two profitable stewards spent what they were given. It does not matter. What matters is that they took the step of faith toward God regardless of the potential inefficiencies. I get the impression from the master’s reaction in this parable that he would not have been upset at the servant’s loss had their investments gone belly up. The idea of putting forth the investment seemed to be of the greatest importance. A seed unsown has no potential of a harvest.
Reflect on this passage for a moment. “But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.” (Matthew 26:8-10 KJV) The challenge in giving is really giving. We want to transfer funds from our individual control to our group control. The idea of pouring everything out for the good of Jesus tends to be offensive specifically because it is so counter to how we would manage things. As though there are finite things available and we must make the best of them. Yet is not kneeling at the feet of Jesus with nothing left to pour out a better position to be in to receive His replenishment? Are not David’s words accurate? “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” (1 Chronicles 29:14 KJV) There may always seem to be better and more effectual ways to manage things. There may always seem to be a more efficient way to handle what is yours. Forget for a moment of your abilities and know that it is in real giving and letting go that we receive.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11 KJV)