• Steven Marsh

Giving–Leveraging Our Giving: a Reflection on Psalm 22:1-15, Mark 10:17-31, and Job 23:1-9, 16

Fifty-three years ago, Geneva began as the Presbyterian Church of Leisure World. We held our first service in Clubhouse 1 on Sunday, May 16, 1965. The Rev. James E. Caldwell was our organizing pastor and our name was changed to Geneva Presbyterian Church of Laguna Hills, being officially chartered October 10, 1965. Three and a half of our four acres were donated by the principal founder of Leisure World and we purchased the additional one-half acre to make up our four-acre campus footprint. Our property was given as a commitment of the founder of Leisure World to have a campus, which would represent to the residents of the Saddleback Valley, God’s “home.” Now that is a vision of leveraged giving.

Geneva Presbyterian Church aspires to be known as followers of Jesus who are remembering, telling, and living the way of Jesus. Today’s Bible readings remind us that God enters our real-life circumstances and experiences. All we need to do is leverage God’s faithfulness with ours to make kingdom differences in the Saddleback Valley and the world.

God’s message of salvation in and through Jesus Christ is for humanity to live in integrity with God, others, and all creation. Like David in Psalm 22, we participate in the volley of being confident in God’s presence with us and for us and the profound questions of God’s absence. We must acknowledge that tension, yet come back to proclaim, confidently, that God does not abandon the faithful.[1]Mark 10 exhorts the community of faith to be selfless. Jesus taught the man who approached him and teaches us that  sacrificial living is God’s way. And Job 23 demonstrates that by living sacrificially, we know that the question “Where is God” is answered by the church’s historic answer, “God is here.”[2]

Leveraged giving spends your intellectual, emotional, spiritual, financial, physical, and time capital, sacrificially. Sacrificial and responsible giving makes the community stronger. Mike Slaughter in The Christian Wallet writes, “Responsible investing means taking all that God has placed into our hands and fully deploying it in every sense of the word toward God’s preferred future picture—both for our own lives and for the lives of others. Investing in tomorrow also requires a simultaneous trust in God’s provision for both today and tomorrow.”[3]Leveraging our giving, sacrificially, is responsible investing.

Your life is designed by God to be a wallet. As we read the Bible, we discover that God has given us prescription glasses enabling us to see more clearly the way of leveraging our giving. John Calvin refers to the Scriptures as spectacles for weak, failing eyes.[4]The Bible teaches us that God, through the local church, is to receive the tithe of our financial capital.

Geneva Presbyterian Church exists to show others a better way to live. We do that by leveraging our giving. Loving God. Loving Others. Let’s leverage our giving through spending our life’s wallet sacrificially.

[1]This insight in this gleaned from Kathleen Bostrom in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 4(Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 154.

[2]My thanks to Thomas Edward Frank in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 4, 146, 148, and 150.

[3]Mike Slaughter, The Christian Wallet (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), 128.

[4]For the analogy of spectacles for weak eyes see John Calvin in Book I, Chapter VI ofInstitutes of the Christian Religion,vol. 1, translated by Ford Lewis Battles and edited by John T. McNeill (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), 69-74.

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