"Christian Misers"

Don't waste your talent by failing to use it.

What to bestow for Christ
they will not, all misers
lose out of season;
after them others gather.
Living but little themselves,
they scarce venture to give to God;
to death they leave their all,
they keep nothing of themselves.

  - Columbanus, “Poem on the World’s Impermanence,” Irish, 7th century[1]

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

  - Matthew 25.29

Today we contemplate the Christian miser, that believer who, endowed with gifts and opportunities for serving the Lord, holds back, rather than risk expressing his faith among the uncertainties of the unbelieving world.

So many unforeseeable things can happen when one ventures to love his neighbor, begin a conversation about the Gospel, take up some work of charity, give selflessly to others, or stand up for truth in some matter of social or cultural moment! We have the power for all of these, in that the Spirit of power dwells within us and the Word is His Sword; but the Christian miser knows that unleashing that power can lead to permanent changes, shattering comfort zones and leading to a life of self-denial and cross-bearing. And while he might wish to be known as a person of such venturing faith, he considers it more reasonable and prudent to leave well enough alone.

Best to leave one’s good intentions safe in the heart or mind, rather then risk losing or bruising them in some Christlike act of service.

The Christian miser is excellent at counting his blessings. Day by day he offers up his thanks and praise to God for the many and abundant good gifts he has received. And, just to make sure he doesn’t lose any of those gifts, or risk losing them in some ill-conceived venture of service, he keeps them secure in a vault in his soul, where he may review and enjoy them at his leisure.

Of course, the Christian miser knows that a day is coming when the Giver of every good gift will require an accounting of what he has done with His largesse. But that is still many years off, he reckons, and even when it happens, is he not forgiven and safe in Jesus? Does not Jesus love him just as he is? Does he not understand and agree with his fears and concerns? Will not grace cover all his foibles and failings? And will he not therefore be received into Jesus’ heavenly mansion, where many more wonderful gifts await his thrift?

Well, let us ask Jesus Himself: “cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30).

The “unprofitable servant” is the one who, greatly endowed for the purpose of glorifying God with his life, excuses himself from putting his talent to work, and instead retains his gifts and blessings for his own enjoyment. He has good reasons for this, of course: no time for ministry, little confidence in his gifts, best left to someone else, too much trouble, and so forth.

And what shall become of him? His gifts will be redistributed, his hopes for a place in heaven will be dashed, and he will be consigned to bitter weeping forever.

If in any way we are Christian misers, let us hasten to repent. God has called us to do works of ministry that build His Church and advance His Kingdom. If all we want is a faith that’s “good enough for me”, we don’t want what Jesus wants for us, and what He has called us to as His followers.

God is no miser when it comes to investing in us. He gave us the supreme Gift of His only Son, so that we might be saved. He has given us His Spirit with power and gifts to serve. And He gives us His Word to guide, transform, and embolden us day by day. Let us not fail to use the many endowments and opportunities provided each day to thank, honor, and praise this very unmiserly God.

Freely we have been given; freely let us give, that others may know the grace and truth of Jesus.

For reflection
1. Why is “Christian miser” an oxymoron?

2. What gifts and opportunities has God given you for this day?

Psalm 32.8, 9 (Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
Teach me, Lord how I should live; sound instruction ever give.
Let me never stubborn be; let Your eye watch over me.
Let Your eye watch over me.

Lord, send me forth today to serve You with all that You have given me, so that I…

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Write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you a free PDF copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction. Here you can read more about the kind of faith it takes to “save civilization”, as Thomas Cahill wrote of the people who followed Patrick, Colum Cille, Columbanus, and others.

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T. M. Moore
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All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, p. 183.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore