Open hand

Did you know that the topic most referenced in the Bible is love? While that may not surprise you, you may be surprised that the second most referenced biblical topic is money. In fact, there are more than 1,000 references to money in the Bible.

Famously, love and money are connected in 1 Timothy 6:10. That verse may also be the most misquoted verse in the Bible. The verse doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil but rather that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

It’s an important distinction to note. Two things from God’s Word become clear regarding love and money. First, we are to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30). Second, if we’re not found to be faithful in the use of money, we will not be found faithful in other things (Luke 16:11).

There are many applications in our lives regarding money. Because of its necessity, money relates to almost every area of our lives. The reason is because – while money is certainly not the most important aspect of our lives – it is a great revealer of our hearts. As the Bible notes in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Churches and pastors alike have emphasized the idea of a person having what’s sometimes called “an open hand before God.” By this we mean that we should not hold tightly to the things of this world – including our money.

Pastors and church leaders, let me encourage you to reflect the same attitude toward our church budgets as we ask our congregations to have toward their personal bank accounts. Let’s make sure that we don’t become inwardly focused as a local body of believers and only support ministries and missions that we have direct benefit from.

In 2022, Alabama Baptists were once again the top contributing State Convention in the SBC in giving through the Cooperative Program. We are certainly not the largest state, nor are we the most affluent. What we demonstrate through our generosity as Alabama Baptists is our strong commitment to the Great Commission, unselfishness and a demonstrable open hand before God. In short, we are not stingy with our giving.

With these ideas in mind, here are three tangible financial goals for your church:

  1. Prayerfully and systematically increase your giving toward missions and ministry every year.
  2. Intentionally set the percentage of your church budget allocated for missions and ministry inside your Jerusalem/Judea to match the percentage of your church budget that is allocated for missions and ministry in “Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.”
  3. Joyfully and generously join thousands of Alabama Baptists in giving through the Cooperative Program.

The Lord has blessed us as individuals and as churches. Let us continue to come before him with an open hand. May His name be magnified above everything!

State Missionary Jay Stewart serves as director of Cooperative Program and Church Financial Resources. He may be contacted at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 2283, or (334) 613-2283,

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