By Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor
I do not know anyone who gets excited about paying bills. In fact sometimes we get mad when the notice due arrives in the mail. Often we have spent more than we realized. Credit cards have a way of separating the gratification of buying something from the stark reality of having to pay for it. Then there are those recurring bills. Electric bills, telephone bills, water bills, cable bills, housing payments, car expenses, insurance, and many others regularly appear in the mailbox and they all include a due date. If the lights are going to be on, the bill must be paid. It is the way things are.
Giving is another thing. It is strictly voluntary. You do not get past due notices. There are no late payment fees. I would commend to you the biblical standard of giving a tenth of what you receive back to God, but it still remains your decision. When the offering plate is passed at church, it is up to you.
During this season of Thanksgiving, we are especially mindful of the blessings we have and are receiving every day. At our house, we are enjoying the gift of a new granddaughter. She is a sweet baby. My joy at times is overwhelming as I experience being a grandmother. As I look at her, I see evidence of the abundant generosity of God.
One of my favorite hymns has the wonderful reminder, “Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely, give. Go in my name and because you believe, others will know that I live.” These words proclaim the spirit of giving within the life of our church. Giving is always a privilege and opportunity, but it is also a response to God’s faithfulness.
I celebrate the many wonderful ministries of our church that are possible because of your generosity. Caring for children, feeding a hungry family, educating young minds, providing a supportive community for seniors, repairing a home, establishing new faith communities, and the list goes on.
Payment of apportionments by your local church represents the covenant of what we will accomplish together. The apportionments to our local churches are not a bill. It is a fair share of what we do together in ministry. Every United Methodist has an equal part as we serve God.
Paying the electric bill does not do a thing for me. Oh, it does keep the lights turned on, but you would not call it something that gives me joy. Giving freely to God with a glad and joyful heart continues to be priceless.