Our car radios are usually turned to either WTOP or NPR, usually depending on who was driving the car last. This week, NPR has been on and it is their membership drive. If you listen to public radio, you know what I am talking about. It is the week or two when they are constantly asking you to donate. After about fifteen minutes, it gets old quick. I think this is one of many reasons churches only talk about stewardship once a year.
It’s a shame because a theological understanding of stewardship is vital to our spiritual life. Psalm 24:1 reads, “The earth is the LORD’S and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” When we understand that God has blessed us immensely, that all we have is from God, we begin to realize that we are to use our gifts, whatever they may be to further the ministry of Jesus Christ. We are to use our gifts to God’s glory. I’m not necessarily talking about giving of our gifts to the church, although I hope you do give freely of your time, talent, and treasure. I’m talking about being the church in the world, about using our gifts in a way that makes a difference. One of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God’s love is a love made clear in a selfless act of given. Our stewardship simply, yet profoundly, imitates God’s example of giving and of sacrifice. It is no wonder that Jesus told the rich, young ruler that he should sell everything and give the money to the poor before following Christ. It is no surprise that Jesus lifted up the widow who gave her final two coins to the temple. A healthy understand of stewardship is an essential part of our faith.
As we prepare for consecration Sunday this Sunday, we should be thinking about stewardship. We should realize that pledging is a way of putting God first in our lives. When you get your income for the month, you pay your bills first. When you have a pledge, ideally, you include it there. You take it into account when making financial decisions. You aren’t giving to God out of what is leftover.
So often, we think about stewardship and giving as what God expects us to do. I think another way to look at it is what has God empowered us to do. Stewardship is using the gifts that God has given us, whether they be time, talent, or treasure, and using them to God’s glory.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.