"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21
The Sunday School teacher said to the class: "According to the gospel, the love of money is the root of all evil." A student responded: "Well, it's not that I love money, I just love the things money can buy."
What we love says a lot about who we are. And since we usually spend our money on the things we love, our financial statements are really statements of self-disclosure. They reveal our true priorities, our true values and our true delights.
Talk is cheap. We can say that we are committed to being healthy and avoiding/controlling diabetes through a healthy diet and exercise, but if we are spending more on junk food and alcohol than we are on vegetables and exercise, we know what has really taken precedence in our hearts.
We can say that we love the church and we are committed to the vitality and sustainability of its mission, but if our financial contributions to the church do not reflect the substantive consistency of God's faithfulness in our lives, we know what the priorities of our hearts really are.
We can say that we value public education as the greatest agent of racial integration and economic uplift that America has ever produced, but if we allow the problems plaguing public education to make us abandon all efforts to adequately fund it and make it more efficient, our funding decisions will say a lot about what we really value at the heart of our nation.
The price of a thing does not necessarily reveal its value. But the things we value are things that we are willing to pay any price to attain and to maintain.
I understand the need for balanced budgets. But I have a problem with austerity measures in government which, while they may make the numbers look better, are too often undertaken without a heart for the people most impacted.
If we are not making serious investments in the things we say that we really value, then we are not being true to our own heart's desires. If there is a continuous disconnect between what we say we value in our hearts and how we spend our dollars, then perhaps we're just not being true.
Lord, you have told us that our treasures and our hearts are reflected in one another. Help us to rectify the incompatibilities and to spend our dollars on the things of real value. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.