Fear, faith and finances

Published 9:08 am Friday, August 13, 2010

By the Rev. Kenneth A. Jensen, retired ELCA pastor

“Do not be afraid, little/lock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” — Luke 12:32.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It leads us to make decisions without thinking as to what the consequences might be. It causes us to build walls to keep others out, but in the process we imprison ourselves within those very walls. Fear inspires wars that need not be fought, prevents us from discovering the richness of other cultures, and fuels the fires of suspicion, prejudice, anger and hatred. The list goes on. President Nixon once said (this may be a paraphrase), “People don’t vote their convictions. They vote their fears.”

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How can we overcome our fears? Jesus’ answer was simple. Be less concerned about self and begin to live for others. In other words, practice generosity. “Sell your possessions, give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out” (Luke 12:33).

We are not asked to impoverish ourselves. We are asked to use what we possess for the welfare of the community. That’s hard for us who have been brought up to value self-reliance and to esteem the rights of the individual over the needs of society.

“Purses that wear out” is a symbol or metaphor used to describe someone who is “tight fisted” when it comes to finances. A purse full of coins will wear out, but an empty purse can last forever. Therefore, Jesus equated empty purses to an “unfailing treasure in heaven”

Of all the “hot button” moral issues facing us today, the Bible most frequently directs Page 2 (Weekly Devotions continued) its attention to money .. .how we revere it, how we strive to obtain it and how we disburse it. Yet, it remains the least talked about issue from the pulpit.

Faith and money go hand in hand in the Scriptures. Full purses indicate one’s inability to trust in God to provide. And if we doubt God’s promise to supply us with daily bread, how can we depend upon God to keep any of his promises? One cannot separate faith from money. They are linked together.

The Rev. Kenneth A. Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.