A Heavenly Perspective on Wealth
There was once a man who was very wealthy. He was worried, though, because he had been taught that you can’t take your wealth with you to heaven. So the man prayed night after night that God would make an exception and let him bring some of his wealth with him. Finally, an angel appeared to him, telling him that an exception would be made – he could bring one suitcase with him into heaven.
The man immediately converted all his investments to gold and filled a suitcase with gold bricks so that he could bring them with him to heaven. When he died, sure enough: he appeared at the gates of heaven – the only person there with a suitcase. Security angels stopped him, saying, “You can’t bring any baggage in with you.” But the man protested, “I was promised one suitcase!”
Security called it in and then told him: “Ok, sir, we’ve been told that you will be permitted to bring in one case. We just need to examine its contents.”The man opened his suitcase to proudly display his gold bricks. The security angels looked extremely puzzled. “What’s wrong?” asked the man.
The angels replied: “Sir, why did you bring a suitcase full of pavement?”
Obviously, the joke is fiction. But like all jokes, it highlights a gap in our perception. The man thought he was bringing his greatest wealth, but in heaven, gold bricks are just paving stones!
Our earthly perspective is limited. There may be no topic that highlights this better than our view of money and wealth. Over and over in the Scriptures – whether in the Old Testament or the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament – God returns again and again to the topic of earthly wealth.
And every time God talks about money, He reveals that our view is very different from His. Earthly wealth has no lasting value except what it can do to help forward God’s kingdom. It can be used so that we give thanks for God’s perfect provision, or it can falsely be trusted as our source of security. It can be used to serve and help others, or it can falsely be used to make our own lives more extravagant. It can be used to show love and care for those in need, or it can be used to falsely make ourselves seem more important and desirable.
I raise the topic of money and wealth for two reasons. The first is temporary and specific – after a Spring of very difficult weather, our church attendance and financial support have been a bit soggy, too. I will leave it to the elders and finance committee to address that with you further in the weeks and months ahead.
The second reason is more important, as it is lasting and meaningful: how you use wealth demonstrates where you are placing your trust and your priorities. I am fond of saying before the offering: “We give back to God just a portion of the gifts He has entrusted to us.” Everything we have is a gift from God. Out of gratitude, love, and obedience, He asks that we give to His Kingdom a portion of what He has given to us.
Biblically, the standard has always been 10%. A “tithe”, or one tenth of our financial earnings should be given back to God out of thanks and obedience.
I never see names connected with giving amounts. I do see numbers. Looking at the giving numbers, either the average income of families at Christ the King sits at around $18,000 a year, or else we are not meeting the Biblical standard of tithing.
It may be helpful to point out: if you come every Sunday of the year, and give $50 every time you come, your giving total would be $2600. This would be a tithe on an annual income of $26,000. And… unfortunately, even so it would put you easily in the top half of givers here at Christ the King.
I, and the council you’ve elected, will continue to pray through how to be good stewards of the tithes and offerings that people are giving – and we are well aware that there are many people who are already being quite generous in their offerings.
That said, as your pastor, I would encourage you to genuinely pray about the way you are using your finances – and what it may reveal about your priorities. It is not a sales pitch to say that there is literally nothing more valuable in our lives than Christ’s Gospel. And it is certainly true that God promises to reward every investment that is made in His Kingdom.
As you pray and seek God’s wisdom, let me urge you: our goal should never be to end up at the gates of heaven holding a suitcase of paving bricks. Especially when those bricks could have been used to deliver Christ’s Gospel and further His Kingdom here on earth.
Serving in His Kingdom with you (and looking forward to those streets of gold),
Pastor Rob Morris
About Our Pastor Rob Morris:
Pastor Rob Morris is celebrating his seventh year of serving at Christ the King Lutheran Church. He was ordained into the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod after a colloquy process that involved one semester of classwork at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and a supervised vicarage here at Christ the King. His previous training included both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA, where he also served as a Teacher’s Assistant leading classwork for both the Greek and Hebrew departments.
Before his call to Christ the King, Pastor Morris served as a full-time staff member at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA, focusing on both the youth and worship ministries. Going even further back, Pastor Rob’s background was in software sales and his undergraduate work was in business and organizational behavior.
Pastor Morris is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart, Christy, and July 2018 marks their 16th wedding anniversary. They have been entrusted with two wonderful boys: Elijah, 12, and Isaiah, 9. As a family, they love to hike, bike, kayak, explore, read, and play music together.
In his free time, Pastor Morris loves reading, playing music on a growing number of instruments, biking, camping, woodworking, and working on old trucks – currently an old Ford and an even older Studebaker.