The Elephant in the Room
By Chris Compton
At some point, we have all experienced the “elephant in the
room.” It may have been at
work, or it may have been at
home. The subject was
taboo. Everyone was
thinking about it, but
no one really wanted
to talk about it. Even
in my church
experience, I have noticed this elephant.
I imagine you have too. Who could miss it? So, let’s give this elephant a name: Finances.
If we are honest, we think about finances a lot. Not only do we think about money, we deal with it on a daily basis. Yet, the fact remains, we don’t like to talk about it. This is even truer when the pastor deals with the subject in a sermon. We are uncomfortable, and the pastor is uncomfortable; therefore, in some cases, we reach a truce. The subject is simply avoided all together. Or, if money happens to be the subject of a sermon or series, churchgoers skip, ignore the teaching, or criticize the pastor for bringing it up.
Why is money the elephant in the room? Several reasons come to mind, but I would like to explore two. First is the perception that if the preacher talks about money, it is the only thing he cares about. How unfortunate and unfair. That is not the heart of most pastors, especially the ones I know. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Your pastor will stand before God and give an account of what he teaches and why he teaches it (James 3:1).
Another reason? Many Christians do not allow Jesus to be Lord of their finances. Most Christians would say they want to honor God with their money, but statistics show that many are simply not. The reality of that truth makes a sermon on money too uncomfortable to hear. Nobody likes it when their toes get stepped on, right?
Why Ignore the Elephant?
While it might be easier to ignore the elephant in the room, I propose it would be more beneficial to hear what God has to say about money. According to the 2014 Stress in America: Paying With Our Health survey, nearly three-fourths (72%) of adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and 32% of adults say their finances prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle. Since money is on the minds of most adults, and stress is not good for our overall wellbeing, it makes sense to learn how to handle our finances in a way that honors the Lord.
Not only that, money is a foundational indicator of the health of a man’s heart. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Heart in this verse refers to one’s deepest affections. In other words, Jesus said if you want to know where the heart of a man truly resides, look at his treasure (money). To combat the lure to chase after the treasures of this world, we need biblical teaching about finances to help us chase after God instead.
Dealing With the Elephant
In what is referred to as “The Parable of the Soils,” Jesus emphasizes the importance of how we hear the Word of God. We find a sense of urgency in the words of Jesus when He says in Luke 8:18a, “Take heed therefore how ye hear…” One of the reasons for this urgency is because our fruitfulness depends on how we hear the Word of God (Luke 15:8). Sermons and how we hear them is a big deal, even the ones on finances!
So, what should we do when the upcoming sermon (or series) is about finances? Let me suggest some ways you can prepare which will both help you and honor God.
Go. It may be tempting to skip that service but resist. It will not only help you, it will encourage your pastor.
Pray. Ask God to give you a good and honest heart. Pray He will help you align your will with His in the area of finances.
Read and meditate. Find Scripture passages that will cultivate your spiritual hunger for the Scriptures. Do this Saturday night or Sunday morning before church and see if God will not nourish your soul.
Come prepared. If you arrive at church thinking the service will be of no benefit to you, it will not.
Be teachable. James 1:21 says, “Receive with meekness the engrafted word…” Don’t let Satan rob you of what God may want to do in you.
Let God help. No one is more trustworthy when it comes to financial advice than God. Not only will you get help with how to handle finances biblically, you will be drawn closer to Him. That is a win-win!
May God help each of us have a greater hunger for His truth, even His truth about money. May God transform our thoughts to align with His thoughts on finances. May God help us to keep the “elephant” out of the room.
About the Writer: Chris Compton is communications officer for the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement. Learn more: www.BoardofRetirement.com.