“In the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah all Israel gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers. They set apart that which was for the Levites; and the Levites set apart that which was for the descendants of Aaron. … Then I gave orders and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them; so that the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields. So I remonstrated with the officials and said, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses …and their duty was to distribute …” Nehemiah 12:47, 13:9-13a,d
Nehemiah took a business trip back to Persia. In his absence the head priest made a decision based on nepotism allowing his relative to move into the store rooms where offerings and sacrifices were kept before being used and distributed. The result was that the Levites did not receive that which they were due, since the offerings were no longer on hand. Remember the gatekeepers and the need to keep order and discipline? Nehemiah asks the question, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” Great question to ask ourselves individually and corporately as congregations! This is not a question focused only on a building, but on the entirety of the work (mission, ministry, maintenance) of the church. Do we as individuals amass great savings for our futures at the expense of those in need? Do we as congregations amass large amounts in our General Funds then balk at helping those in need? Consider this Wesleyan Core Term – Use of Money: Wesley’s famous maxim “Gain all you can . . . save all you can . . . give all you can” is often misunderstood because we tend to understand save as accumulate (Sermon 50: “The Use of Money”). Wesley, however, means economize. Christians should if possible, be gainfully employed, ethically earning as much as possible. We economize by not spending more on ourselves than necessary for a modest, useful, disciplined life. We can thus contribute liberally, giving all we can for the poor and for ministry. Wesley knew that running a business may require capital, so he was not opposed to accumulating money for this purpose. But any wealth beyond what is necessary for ethical business and modest living belongs to the poor. We rob God if we do not give it away. Our money is not really ours; it rightfully belongs to God and the poor. We are stewards. Christian discipleship requires us to “give all [we] can,” not as charity but as stewardship. By giving we grow in grace. (Wesley Study Bible, page 1223)
As stewards of God’s riches we are called, as individuals, to give to the greater good, to temporarily combine our gifts so that they may be given as any has need. Being a good steward required long-term faith – Over-the-horizon faith. O that I am always faithful, that I would distribute to those in need, faithfully believing there will always be more given. I want to be a distributor of God’s blessings not a hoarder of them.