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stewardship

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Cross On a Hill by Tambako / Flickr / Creative Commons

“Q: As his steward, how does God require you to use your possessions? A: As I am able, I should earn my own living so that I may set aside offerings for worship, give alms to the poor, and care for my dependents; and I should use all my possessions, gifts and abilities to glorify God, better the state of the creation, and love my neighbors.”

“Q: What is the minimum standard of giving for you as a Christian? A: A tithe, which is ten percent of my income, is the minimum standard and goal of giving for the work of God; yet Jesus expects more than my minimum.

– To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

“When what we have we receive as a gift, and when we know that what we have is to be cared for by God, and when what we have is available to others, we have an attitude of stewardship.”

– Richard Foster

Stewardship: There are few areas of life where people need to hear the liberating message of the Gospel more than the area of finances and money. Conversely, there are few issues that the Church is more reticent to address than the issue of stewardship. Here at New Creation, there are five great biblical principles which inform the life of our church. We openly discuss these as we pray to become more and more a truly generous people:

1. God is the giver of all that we have. What we possess is not earned, but is a gift from him.

  • Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
  • In Psalm 50:10-11, God says, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
  • This includes our whole life: our time, our talent, our treasure.

2. We are accountable to God for what we do with what he has entrusted to us.

  • The person who has been made rich with God in the Gospel of Jesus has no problem with the reality that they are accountable to God for everything because they’ve already got everything they need. But for the person who is clinging and scratching for everything they see around them, this accountability feels like a great weight on their back.
  • In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents, and makes this utterly clear. Three servants are given varying amounts of money (talents) by their master. The master leaves and two of the servants use the money accordingly, bearing fruit. The other acts as if he had never received the money from his master in the first place, simply burying it. At the end of the parable, the thing that is made utterly clear is that regardless of what we believe, in the end we will all be accountable to God for what we’ve done with what he’s given. What kind of attitude will we have about it?

3. Our decisions about possessions are spiritual decisions. As we grow in giving, we learn to trust God more and more. Stewardship is part of our growth as a disciple.

  • We tend to view money as a practical matter (“I just need more of it”), rather than a spiritual issue.
  • Jesus told the story of the poor widow’s offering in Mark 12, and declares her to be a truly generous person. Money was a great spiritual good in her life.
  • On the other hand, we read of the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-30), the one to whom Jesus said, “”If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” The man’s love for his riches was a great spiritual threat, robbing him of devoted discipleship to God.

  4. We are called to give generously, with a tithe as our baseline.

  • Generous giving is the goal of New Testament giving, which far exceeds tithing. Under the blessings of the New Covenant, the expectation is more, not less.
  • Tithing is a milestone, not a destination.
  • Basis for the tithe: Genesis 14:17-24, Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Malachi 3:6-12, Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

5. The motive for giving is joy, gratitude, and thankfulness.

  • Psalm 116 says, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
  • If our giving is not based on thankfulness, it’s merely fundraising. The motive for our giving is not flattery, not to be thought of as a benefactor, not as a “tip” to the pastor for doing a good job, not guilt, not duty, not because the church “needs” it, but gratitude, joy, and thankfulness. In Jesus Christ, God has given us everything we need, how can we do anything other than live with an open hand, saying to God, “All things come from you, and of your own have we given you!”

 

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