Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 19 – Wednesday after 3rd Sunday of Lent
Do you give sufficient time to sharing with others in the meeting, both newcomers and long-time members, your understanding of worship, of service, and of commitment to the Society’s witness?
Do you give a right proportion of your money to support Quaker work?
(Advices & Queries #20)
From the Scriptures:
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
In her song ‘Price Tag’, Jessie J says it is ‘not about the money, money, money’ but goes on to sing about all that can only be done with sufficient money to be able to ‘forget about the price tag’. The proof of our commitment to almost any area of our life is how much of our time, our worldly goods and our money we invest in it.
What we give, in offering a welcome, sharing the faith, and enabling the work of the gospel to go forward is always a far better barometer of our spiritual health than any Creed, Covenant, or Common Prayer Book.
Not that giving more than another person makes me a better follower of the faith, Jesus teaching about the Widow’s Mite disproves that. We are called to give a right proportion of [our] money. Not a tithe, not a ‘modern’ tithe (5% to church and 5% to charity), nor even – in imitation of Zacchaeus the tax collector – half of all our goods. Just that frustrating little phrase ‘a right proportion’.
To be honest I would much rather a fixed percentage of my income was demanded of me and then now that my ‘subs’ had been paid and things were all squared off with God. Then I would be more certain of ‘fulfilling all righteousness’ and in so doing fall straight into the heresy that is salvation by works!
In reality we have nothing to give away, as everything is our Beloved’s possession. The apostle reminds us that ‘you are not your own… For you were bought with a price’ and so to have anything is, in fact, nothing to boast or brag about but only gifts to be used in the service of God and God’s children.
In my more fey moments, and the older I get the more frequent they become, I picture myself as the Bride of Christ, cherished and beloved with all my flaws and failings. As I in an embarrassed shyness look into the eyes of the One who loves me best, He plights his troth to me and says:
With this Ring I thee wed,
with my body I thee worship,
and with all my worldly goods I thee endow…
Showered with such love, such giving of His own body on the cross for my (for our) forgiveness, how can I not yield my all to Him?
Every time I hold back some of that which is a right proportion of my treasure, my time, my talents I besmirch His love and, as John Donne wrote, find myself ‘betrothed unto your enemy’. How sad.
Whenever we choose to hold on to our possessions, whatever form they may take, we make it more difficult to be held by Perfect Love. This should not be surprising. A faithful marriage requires that we love only one person. That means we can either hold on to all that we have and love only ourselves, or yield a right proportion of all of our life and find a love that, as Amy Grant sings is ‘As Deep as it is Wide’
In the end we discover that it is indeed ‘not about the money, money, money’.
Thank you dear dear Jesus for loving us so so deeply. Help us to offer everything we have and are to your service as our thankful song of praise.
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Examine the amount of your money you give to the church. If it is not a right proportion adjust (this may mean decrease as well as. increase) it before Easter.
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged