05 Nov Love Stewardship!
This coming Sunday is Stewardship Sunday at my church. One of my idiosyncrasies is that I LOVE stewardship season and especially Stewardship Sunday. Really, I get nearly giddy. Perhaps it is partly because right out of college I was a Certified Public Accountant for a couple of years. People who know me well shake their heads in disbelief at this little factoid, but it is true. A BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) was the only degree at Baylor that didn’t require a person to take—and pass—a foreign language. I am as good at foreign languages as I am at computers, so I was a business major.
I have always liked math, especially algebra. I still keep a paper checkbook and I balance it to the penny, just as I have done since I was 16. (My first “passbook savings account” book dates further back, probably to age 9!) And, I truly enjoy budgeting. I know, I know—I’ve now gone from idiosyncratic to just plain weird, but it can’t be helped.
None of that is the real reason I love stewardship. I love it because generosity is so deliriously fun. In 2015 the generosity of Calvary’s members has allowed us to, among other things:
- fund a well in a third world country
- provide food for the impoverished along the Route 1 corridor
- offer reading and math tutoring each week for 3rd-6th graders
- give an immigrant driving lessons
- make a donation to a shelter for abused women and children
- support families in hard life transitions
This is in addition to what we do week in, week out: encountering God in life-changing ways in worship; visiting the sick and comforting the dying; providing hospitality and fellowship; praying with and for one another; opening our doors to our community so our building can be used for everything from family mediation counseling to violin lessons for youngsters to hosting a second, Hispanic-speaking congregation.
Giving so that these kinds of activities and opportunities are available to as many people as possible is fun. And, it also affords me a regular “check-in” with myself to see the true state of my heart regarding my possessions. Am I living generously or have I fallen into the trap of living for myself?
It is no accident that Stewardship Sunday falls on the day that our sermon series brings us to the 8th commandment: Don’t steal. Most people know that stealing is wrong, but what is often overlooked is that the positive side of this commandment speaks to how we view and use what we own. What the Bible means by “ownership” is not possessing things to use for our own purposes, but receiving things from God to use for God’s glory and the coming of God’s kingdom. To put it in simplest terms, this commandment isn’t just about stealing; it’s also about stewardship.
Author Jerry Bridges has observed that there are three basic attitudes we can take toward possessions. The first says, “What’s yours is mine; I’ll take it.” This is the attitude of the thief. The second says, “What’s mine is mine; I’ll keep it.” Since we are selfish by nature, this is the attitude that most people have most of the time, and it is certainly the attitude our culture promotes. The third attitude—the spiritual attitude—says, “What’s mine is God’s; I’ll share it.”
Everything we have comes to us as a gift from God. It’s hard to remember that when the Wall Street Journal, our 401K advisor, and holiday shopping advertisements bombard us with messages to the contrary. But, the real truth is that we live by grace and all that we have belongs to God. We are stewards of it; not owners. And, as stewards it is our responsibility, our privilege, and our joy to give generously.
We have an awesome tradition at Calvary of dancing down the aisles as we give our offerings on Stewardship Sunday. If you are in the neighborhood this Sunday, you’re welcome to come dance with us!
Yours for the Kingdom,