By now most of you have received a letter from our Finance/Stewardship committees detailing your wonderful giving and the numerous ministry events we do every week. We are attempting to live into the vision you helped us form. The letter also outlines some fiscal needs that require attention from us. I encourage you to carefully read this letter and prayerfully respond.
Since I was old enough to put my dime in my church envelope and hand it in during Sunday School, stewardship has been a part of my life as a follower of Christ. My first lesson was taught by my parents: your tithe goes into the envelope first, then what you have left is used for expenses and entertainment. I realize times have changed, yet I wonder… if we proclaim that God is first in our lives, do we show that with our resources? This “offering first” behavior also teaches us a lesson in faith: by giving to God first, I am living into the truth that I will trust God for the needs in my life and family.
A second lesson my parents taught me was this: everything I have is from God. EVERYTHING. Now, our culture does not support this idea very much. We are trained and taught that we are responsible for our lives, our careers, and our accomplishments. Again, there is some truth in this, and yet, as believers in God, we proclaim that God is the source of all we are and have. So, I ask once more…if we claim God is the source of our life, do we show that with our resources?
Several years ago I was doing some reading on stewardship and wrote down this statement in my journal as a summary of what I had read: “God-inspired stewardship is when we accept a God-given understanding that we are living a God-given life.” This is my own personal stewardship life guide. For me it reminds me that every day is a gift. My family, my relationships, my work, my health, my house, everything; all of it is a gift from God. This helps me to keep things in perspective. Second, this statement emphasizes that even the ability to think of all these things as gift is a gift from God. It takes a mind that has been renewed by the Spirit of God to see life this way (2 Corinthians 5:17). And third, as I am able by the grace of God to see all of life as a gift from God, my only response is gratitude. Hence my giving is an act of gratitude, not law.
I want to encourage you as an individual/family to try this exercise this fall. Come up with your own personal stewardship life guide. Ask and answer these questions: what do I really believe about God? …about God and my life? …about God and my future? How will my response to these questions direct what I do with my resources? Stewardship is a part of our journey with God. I look forward to hearing from you as you develop a stewardship life guide. I hope you will share it with others in your Sunday School class and other small groups. I hope you will have the opportunity to share it with neighbors and friends who are not yet on the journey of faith!