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Oct. 26 - Nov. 1, 2009

Our Need to Give

By Rev. Dana Reardon

When we speak about stewardship, we often wind up discussing the difference between wants and needs.  This exercise is not always as clear-cut as it first seems.  Certainly, we need oxygen, water, food, clothing, and shelter. But beyond that, on a very basic level, most things could be classified as wants and not needs.  

Yet there are things that we also need because of our culture. In a society where everyone has a phone, a car and a computer, it may be difficult to earn a living without these things.

In all our discussions of needs and wants, though, we never seem to talk about our need for God. For too many of us, a relationship with God has been relegated to the "wants" category.  Maybe our churches are partly to blame -- when we sing hymns like, “Oh for a closer walk with thee.”  We want people to want to be closer to God.

Over the years people have come into my office struggling because they want to feel closer to God.  I don’t always know what to tell them other than to pray, come to church and commune.

But I found an answer last week at a conference. We heard about how people frequently get one of Jesus' teachings wrong.  They erroneously quote Jesus as saying, “Where your heart is, there will your treasure be." In fact, what Jesus says, in both Matthew and Luke, is, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The teaching tells me that our giving to God belongs in the "needs" column. There is no room for saying that we will give generously to God only after we have enough of our wants met, or when our salary reaches some arbitrary figure.  That kind of thinking puts our relationship with God in the same category as the new car -- or whatever dream that must wait until we have more.  

Perhaps we believe that because God is patient and loving, we can put off looking seriously at what we give to God.  God is, indeed, patient, but that's beside the point. The need to give to God is not because God needs, but because we need to give.  It opens our hearts and changes our relationship not only with God but also with everyone around us.

Lord, who gives so generously to us, help us to give that we might find our treasure in you.  Amen

A longtime SOLI contributor, the Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Warwick, R.I. She draws from her parish experiences to write about generosity, giving and gratitude for all God's gifts. Reach her at mspastor@aol.com.

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