Forward Today: Jesus’ other teaching

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors. Today’s message comes from Canon Clyde Kunz, President of the Standing Committee in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and Member of the Forward Movement Board.

When asked the question “What is the most important of Jesus’ teachings?” most of us would probably respond:  to love one another.

And we would of course be right.  But we tend to overlook the other lesson He tried to communicate repeatedly:  to give, and to do so generously.

Why do we tend to remember the one but ignore the other?  Probably because we believe it easier to love than to be generous.  But as true disciples of Jesus, we need to understand that generosity actually IS love.

This time of year, we begin to hear messages about Christian stewardship – the giving of our time, talent and treasure.  We unfortunately sometimes hear from stewardship campaign leaders (even from the pulpit!) that the reason for our giving is to balance the church’s budget, or to cover roof or parking lot repairs.  But the reason for Christian stewardship as Jesus taught it has virtually NOTHING to do with covering the church’s expenses!

So what is it about?  In Matthew chapter 6, repeated again in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  And therein lies the key.  The core of the teaching.  Aligning our giving with our hearts.

Which compels me to ask myself:  where is my heart?

The late Rev. Billy Graham used to quote this passage from Matthew, after which he’d say: “Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.” And I wonder if someone were to look at my check register (or nowadays my credit card statement) where would they believe my heart to be?  Or more to the point, what might they assume it is that I worship?

Would it be the somewhat exotic vacations I am inclined to take?  The pricey restaurants I frequent more than my expanding waistline can justify?  While there is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the good things life has to offer, I sometimes wonder how those expenditures might compare with my giving to support the work of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ teaching on giving is all about aligning our heart with our generosity.

This time of year, our mailboxes are filled with requests from genuinely worthy causes.  But might we consider prioritizing our support of God’s kingdom when making our charitable contributions this year?  We can do so by pledging generously to our parish’s annual stewardship campaign.  And as true disciples we can also support the Episcopal Church’s Bless Campaign, the work of our seminaries or of organizational ministries like Forward Movement.  All are ways in which we can, as Jesus taught us, align our giving and our heart.

During this year’s season of giving, where is it I want my heart to be?

Yours faithfully,

Canon Clyde Kunz
Board Member, Forward Movement
President of Standing Committee,  Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

More from our ministry:

Support the ministry of Forward Movement: Donate today

Explore Christian stewardship and a holy use of wealth: The Unjust Steward

Giving is a Vital Sign of Faith – learn more in Kate Moorehead Carroll’s book

New ChurchNext course: Sharing God’s Resources Through An Ancient Practice