A Spiritual Exercise
the Rev. Henry Morris
Just as bike riding strengthens our bodies and word
games strengthen our minds, so we need spiritual exercises that strengthen
our souls. What do you include in your spiritual exercise routines?
We may not think of money management as an
opportunity for spiritual growth, but it surely is. How so?
First, let’s consider what receiving money does to us
if we are not aware. God warned the Israelites in the Promised Land that
they must be very careful as their prosperity grew, “lest they think they
got it for themselves.” Prosperity is dangerous if it turns our heads and
leads us to think we are our own Providers.
Likewise, Jesus spoke frankly about money, not as
something bad but as something dangerous. Echoing the warning that money
makes us forget our need for God, Jesus said simply: “It’s easier for a
camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to
enter the Kingdom.”
Considering the danger of spiritual arrogance that
comes with money, we definitely need some help keeping perspective. As
always, the help is right there in the hands of God. Why do you think God
told the Israelites to take the first tenth (tithe) of their harvest and
offer it to the LORD? God is giving us the exercise that will strengthen
our ability to handle money and weaken its power to handle us!
What would happen if we accept God’s gift of tithing
when we accept God’s gift of money? If we give off the top, we claim our
place as “givers” before we admit that we are “consumers.” That puts our
priorities in order and establishes a framework of gratitude around the
rest of our financial affairs.
We guard against “thinking that we got it for
ourselves” by acting first to honor God and consciously admiting that he
gave it to us. Any good financial advisor will tell you to put your money
to work for you.
What if the first job your money does for you is to
remind you who your God is and what your life is about? Try it and see.
The Rev. Henry Morris, an ELCA
pastor, is a writer and stewardship consultant based in New Haven,
Conn. This article first appeared in LutherLink, the publication of the
New England Synod.