When I first began in ministry, I didn’t liked stewardship Sundays. It seemed as hard as I might try, I couldn’t take out the guilt aspect of asking people to give more. We could all probably do more with the time, talents and treasures God has gifted us with to further His kingdom and its hard to be reminded that we have failed to live up to the expectations placed upon us.
This brings to mind a story about a small Church located in a farming community. The pastor of the church would call on every member of the congregation as part of the annual pledge campaign. The next home he was going to visit was Farmer Brown’s. Now Mr. Brown was known in the community to be very frugal with his finance’s; if you know what I mean.
The pastor asked Farmer Brown “if you had two brand-new tractors would you be willing to give one of them to the church?” “O Surely pastor if I had two brand-new tractors I would gladly sell one and give the money to the church.” “Farmer Brown if you inherited $2 million would you give 1/10 to the church?” “O Pastor I would surely give at least 1/10 to the church.” The pastor went on “now Farmer Brown if you had two pigs…. you just wait a minute there pastor, you know darn well I’ve got two pigs.”
It’s one thing to give out of an over abundance of riches, its something else to sacrifice something that might put restrictions on your life.
Peter touches on this in 1 Peter 4:10 when he says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Peter here is not talking about just the gifts over and above our wants, he is including every gift that God has blessed you with. Once again the focus is on serving others.
And God promises to be faithful to the generous in heart. He says through Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God love a cheerful giver.” Those who give of themselves can expect blessings in return for their good deeds. Those who makes sacrifices for the benefit of their fellow man are promised riches in heaven beyond measure.
Every good gift comes from God and He has given these gifts to us not to hoard, but to share. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man going on a long journey. While he was away he entrusted his property to his 3 servants and expected them to make a profit from what they had been given. Two of them did just that, but one, out of fear of losing it, did nothing with what he had been given. To the two who were faithful much more was given as a reward for their faithfulness. To the one who did nothing, even what he was given was taken away.
This is how God sees His own kingdom. To each of us He has given gifts and He expects us to use these gifts to add riches to the kingdom, riches consisting of hearts and souls won for Christ. Some will answer this call to serve others with what they have been given, others will only think of themselves. None of us will be perfect but many will use their gifts wisely to please the King of kings.
In everything, however, God asks His people to give with joy. He wants His people to seek treasures above and not earthly treasures that may corrupt. He wants our time, talents, and treasures to be used to ready ourselves for the next life, not to serve ourselves in this one.
Paul told the Colossians in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” He is asking them to have an attitude of generosity towards God and His people. And He promises that if you, “commit your work to the Lord, your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).
Stewardship is about so much more than giving, it’s a sign of dedication to your God and a willingness to do what it takes to further the kingdom. It’s a show of faithfulness to God in the knowledge that He will always provide. Finally, its an understanding that greater riches are to come.
So, what do you plan to do with all the gifts God has given you? Will you live for this life or for the next? It’s up to you. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank You for all you have given us and help us to be good stewards of that bounty. Forgive us for those times we have only thought of ourselves and help us to use what you have given wisely, always with You in mind. Amen.