You should have seen the joy on my face as I opened the carrier bags left on the door step!
We were a young family with two girls. From the time when I was first a Christian age 14, I had tithed, giving 10%, beginning with my pocket & paper round money. It had been easy then as my parents provided board and lodging but now married with one income, a mortgage etc. etc. each pay day and bill that came was linked to an act of faith.
A few weeks previously we had decided when pressurised by an insurance agent that WE couldn’t take out insurance. It was a matter at that time of either an insurance policy or trusting God to meet our needs and part of that trusting meant that we would trust him with the whole of our selves.
That involved our time, talents and tithe.
We were planning to go camping and every cost had been accounted for. The girls had grown out of many of their holiday clothes & specifically their swimming costumes. What were we to do? Little Rachel particularly wanted a red bikini. She was insisting on red!
As I unpacked the carrier- inside was a red bikini and the size was just right for Rachel. SLIDE Besides the bikini were many other very beautiful items of clothing suitable for both girls. My heart went out in praise to God and the girl’s pleasure was a very happy echo.
My friend, Eileen had been listening to God & the timing was perfect. Eileen was practising Stewardship in her love gift to us !
Verse 8 of our passage says God is able to BLESS you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, you have all that you need. We knew the truth of this verse then.
I’ll tell anyone who wants to know, over coffee later, how God paid the gas & electric bill when we returned from the holiday.
Stewardship is a lifestyle. It is about so much more than money.
Stewardship cannot be divorced from the lifestyle choices we make, including our understanding of God and our relationship with Him.
Stewardship is not about giving to the need – but more about our needing to give…..
Reflecting God’s nature.
When our thinking begins in Genesis we discover that God is Creator and was pleased with what He made especially the people who He made in His image.
You and I am made in His image (though now marred) -made to be creative with the ability to bless.
Creator God gave the land and everything in it to us to care for and to use. God’s nature is to give and when we give we are developing His image in us.
Giving is being caught up in the flow of God’s gracious giving, being caught up in that grace.
As we learn to give of ourselves- time, abilities and finance we are becoming true disciples not only following the pattern Jesus gave, but extending His likeness in us.
So what is a Steward?
DICTIONARY – It is someone who manages property or other affairs for someone else.
The Christian understanding of stewardship comes from the realisation that everything that we have – whether possessions, finance, abilities, time etc have their source in GOD.
“All things come from You, and from Your own have given You.” we say…………….. Do we really believe this?
OR THINK THAT WE ARE THE OWNERS……
That we have everything because of our own efforts, that we have a right to everything we have and are.
God has put everything into the earth as resources. He creates us and keeps us going, giving us skill and energy which we turn into money and material things that can be used for ourselves and others.
He gives us time to be available for ourselves and others. He has created our bodies with ears to listen, mouths to speak, bodies to create and to serve.
When He did this at the beginning He said, “It was very good”
We can ask ourselves, if our …. of what He has given,
is very good?
Stewardship is defined as – the act of caring for….
OR – The responsible planning and management of, resources.
Stewardship is often linked to the principle of sustainability.
Sustainability needs consideration with regard to our own lives, to God’s Church & its mission
but also to our planet.
We are not good stewards if we IRRESPONSIBLY
get in to debt.
But greed & hoarding is not stewardship either.
Our passage said, 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Any sparse sowing or sharing, is not for want of seed, but for want of trust in the heart of the sower or the desire to be independent of God and others & hold on to what has been given.
Mature stewardship is a liberating experience: receiving with gratitude, sharing with generosity and finding contentment and enjoyment in what we have.
To not have enough to live on, whether in third-world poverty or the relative poverty of this country, is an offence to God’s purpose in creation and should be challenged with all means at our disposal.
The passage continues V7. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
——-A thought through decision…. Not pressurised but considered.
There is a domino effect in giving: when we learn to give, precisely because money is so close and important to us, it releases lots of other areas of our lives.
As we give willingly in a variety of ways, we reap spiritual blessings in which words like joy, freedom, contentment and obedience are all central.
As God developed His relationship with people He protected, fed, provided a home & developed a community. All these things demonstrated His love.
I read somewhere that “We can give without loving, but we cannot LOVE without giving”………….. How true!
And what we do with our money, our time and our abilities is a test of the depth of our discipleship too.
Now let’s look at something that we have shared before. It represents to me the life of loving Stewardship.
God isn’t impressed by the style of the car you drive.
He’s interested in how many people you give lifts to.
God doesn’t care about the clothes you have in your wardrobe
He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.
God isn’t interested in the amount of your highest salary. He’ll ask if you used your money to be a blessing to others.
God doesn’t care about your job title.
He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
God doesn’t care how many friends you had.
He’ll ask how many you befriended.
God isn’t interested in how busy you’ve been.
He is interested in whether you had time for family & other people.
God won’t have to ask how many people you told about Jesus.
He already knows whether or not you shared His good news of salvation.
In summary then, let us reflect the One who is a Giver, who looked at His creation and said. “It is good.” And then gave it to the people He made to enjoy, care for and to share.