Don’t read this letter if you think a minister should leave the subject of money alone but do read it if you are up for a challenge.
Two Cornhill Experiences
- One of the saddest experiences I’ve had – don’t ask me why it got to me but it did – was when we organised a launch of the Cornhill ministry. [The Cornhill ministry is a ‘two morning training’ in handling the bible – it began at St Thomas’ and now meets in Moore College. One hundred ‘students’ have now been through].
A generous friend had found a city venue for the launch. David Jackman from England (who had run the London Cornhill for fifteen years) was the guest and we even had a student from London to talk of the impact of Cornhill on his life.
We needed some donors to get ‘Cornhill Sydney’ off the ground and there was no doubt by the end of the night that this was a Word ministry with immense value. But everyone declined – except one who made a small gift.
I felt on the night that if I had been one of those present with significant wealth from God that it would have been the greatest privilege to provide the funds needed. We were honestly shocked and gutted.
When people have incomes or savings so that giving $10,000 or $100,000 is hardly a dent in their living standards – of course they must choose their causes from the many that present to them – do we see such giving?
Some who are kingdom people should be working out that they can live on a fraction of their income/wealth and making things happen in the gospel cause.
- Then at Cornhill last Monday I was teaching the last chapter of 1 Timothy.
Paul says some fascinating (and bold) things about money such as:
- If you want to get rich – it’s a trap (6:9). How true this is as Christians have followed the voice of the world and ended up successful with disintegrated families.
- If you are rich – be rich in generosity (6:18). And Paul doesn’t suggest this – he says “command these things” and those who don’t listen are ‘conceited’!
But the biggest surprise in our Cornhill class was asking the great ‘why’ question – why does Paul finish a letter on ministry with a chapter on money?
And the answer we realise is that behind the people who hinder (or don’t help) the gospel advance are those whose treasure is really in this world. All the talk of the next world is shown to be shallow if the present world has us in its vice like grip.
When generosity pervades a church the vice like grip on wealth gladly loosens and people experience the joy of giving to what will last forever.
So some (like the widow in Mark 12) may be giving a little bit but as God sees – it’s a lot.
Some may be abundantly supplied by God and have the huge privilege of making gospel projects happen.
Some may feel they are ‘poor’ – but you know that funds for costly holidays are possible!
You may think that I’m talking to you about something that I don’t do myself. So Kathy and I have been seeking by the grace of God to loosen our grip on what we have – to contribute to appeals including our own church appeal and beyond.
Those who seem to win the world by turning from kingdom opportunities are the greatest losers. Those who give – the greatest receivers.