Not that you’ve heard much from me on it before; Lord knows, I’m not the best example of Stew … oops, I nearly gone and said it, and lost you right there. Have you ever noticed how church attendance drops during that Month? Folks act like you’re trying to sell them something, or even worse, get them to join their multilevel marketing scheme. “Here’s your amazing opportunity to pay your hard-earned bread that’s ever in short supply, for the right to sell overpriced stuff and pitch that opportunity to all your friends, relatives, and anybody you’ve ever known, so they’ll hate to see you coming and block your calls.” Irresistible, eh?
I’m afraid I’ve got on one of my pet peeves. Trouble is, it’s directly related to stew … er, that word. Okay, as trying to disguise it feels a bit cumbersome, I’ll go ahead and say it. Stewardship! Stewardship, stewardship, stewardship. It’s truly the boogeyman of religious topics.
That’s because it’s not a religious topic; it’s a life topic, that has as much to do with spending your time and talents as spending money.
Stewardship is the responsibility side of your liberty in Christ. By grace, through faith, he saved you from your sin — not just your sin-guilt, but sin’s domination of your life. If your faith is in Jesus Christ’s person and work, not faith in your works, your religion, your niceness, or even in your faith, you’re free of sin’s compulsion because his Holy Spirit resides within you, cohabiting with your human spirit.
If you’ve lived in Christ Jesus long enough, you already know all that sounds easier than it is; though sin is dead to you, its ghost haunts you regularly, if not constantly, with temptations that are, at times, too hard to resist. Christ’s apostle Paul nailed it:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19)
First time I read that I thought, that’s me; if the great apostle Paul had trouble with temptation, maybe I have hope.
I found said hope at the end of that chapter and the beginning of the next:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1-2)
DANGER: DO NOT STOP WITH THOSE VERSES! They paint a beautiful picture, but not the complete one. God’s Word is true; his whole word, not just selected passages.
You’re likely wondering what all this has to do with Stewardship. Well, that’s an easy one. Whatever you do after you come to Christ is stewardship of his gifts to you. All of his gifts! If you truly belong to God, all that’s yours is his (duh!). It’s really more of an attitude, a frame of mind, than an amount on a check. And it’s not a duty. It’s simple cause-and-effect: If you love God, you love to give to him. And here’s that nasty old converse logic again: If you don’t want to give to God, you don’t love him, and you’re not as “saved” as you think.
If this tirade hasn’t daunted you, next time you and I can dig into 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, where Paul deals directly with giving. See ya.