The church I work for has been journeying through “The Story” (The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People) in sermon, Sunday school, small group and personal study this year. Beginning in January with God creating everything, taking “Story breaks” for Easter, special guest speakers and the summer, they have arrived at the crucifixion this week. This first Sunday in October, they will be laying Jesus in the tomb and then will be taking another Story break for the rest of the month to accommodate the annual stewardship drive.
This past week, in our staff meeting, the pastor jovially remarked that he was putting Jesus in the tomb on Sunday (the first Sunday in October) and because of the annual stewardship drive was not letting him back out until November. That statement has been resonating in my mind and my heart this week. Everything that exists is God’s and we are the stewards of his wealth. And yet, when it comes to the annual stewardship drive, how inclined are we to put Jesus back in the tomb and not let him out until it’s over and we’ve made “our” decision about what to do with the money God has placed in our care. How often do we look at the bottom line and what we think we can comfortably afford instead of going to the Master for his instructions concerning the distribution of his wealth?
Even as I write these thoughts, I find myself guilty as charged. I must admit that in the past couple of years I’ve given what I thought I could without really asking for God’s opinion, let alone seeking his command. With the continuing rising prices of gas and food and almost everything else, plus the addition of a car payment now, I am again more inclined to shy away from asking God what he wants me to do with the money he has put in my charge. I guess I’m afraid that God is going to say to give more than my budget’s bottom line says I am able to give. I’m on a very tight budget and there are few, non-essential expenditures to give up in order to balance a budget with a large tithe.
I guess what it all boils down to is how much do I really trust God? Do I really believe that he is real and active in my life, concerned about and providing for my needs? And not just “believe” but “know” that if God asks me to take a giant leap of faith and be faithful in giving more than my budget says I can possibly afford, that he will be faithful in providing the necessities of life. Do I believe God when he tells me in Philippians 4:13 that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me or do I think those are just hollow words of encouragement? Will I put aside what I can prove and my fear of the unknown, trusting God, who knows and hold eternity in his hand, and approach him in prayer asking, “Lord, for this small moment in my eternal life, what shall I do with the resources you have put in my charge?”
In the end, if I want to do this Christian stewardship thing right, I will have to give up the decision of how much to give, which by the way was never mine to make in the first place, and defer to God’s budget for the disbursement of his wealth and property. It will be a struggle in my faith and whatever God decides, I’m sure I’m not going to be happy with given that I’m human and basically selfish. However, I think that the growing intimacy in my relationship with God as I learn to rely more on him and less on my own strength and understanding is a priceless treasure worth the effort.
About the pictures:
North Park (October 2012)