The Responsibility of Stewardship
The commonly accepted definition of stewardship for religious folks is the management of God’s gift to us of money. A worldly definition is; stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. While we think primarily of our God-given money resource, what else might be in this category of ‘resources’? God gives each of us gifts that allow us to be productive members of His Body, the Church. (Romans 12:6) As his children, we have the responsibility to use these gifts to the best of our ability. You might ask ’What is my gift?’ or ’How can my contribution help win others to Christ?’ We spent part of this past year investigating our ’gifts’ in our Sunday morning class, where Dennis helped guide us as we searched for our gifts. By the way, if you really find yourself in a quandary about how to use your gift in the Body, reach out and ask one of us.
So, back to the topic of ‘stewardship’. After understanding that we are all responsible for ’managing’ what God has blessed us with, let’s look at some specifics. My early years as a Christian were spent in a secular job, with jobs that provided pretty good earnings. While in those jobs, I wasn’t able to spend a large amount of time doing ’the Lord’s work’. But we were able to contribute more money as a family, while my income was higher. I was still able to participate in church activities, but my job took up a large part of my daily life. When I retired, my income decreased dramatically , but my available time increased significantly. So, our giving decreased, but our availability to participate in ’church work’ increased. My God-given resources, while changing somewhat, still had to be managed properly.
The bottom line, as they say, is, what does God expect of us? Are you doing and giving as He would expect? We are each blessed beyond what we deserve, as you well know. God blesses us so we can be a blessing to those around us. Galatians 6:10 instructs us to ’do good to all men especially to those that are of the household of faith.’ In Romans 14:9-12 it says that ‘each of us will give an account to God’. Use your ‘resources’ to become acceptable. God expects it!
I Want To Be Like You
Have you ever questioned things?Wondering if what you believe (and in my case, what I teach) is truth?In a recent Sunday morning class, a question was asked regarding whether or not“admonishing one another” (Romans 15:14)is a salvation issue.On the one hand, I firmly believe that how we love one another can and will play a role in God’s account of us (Romans 14:12).But that thought must be tempered, for we serve a merciful and patient God.The one another verses paint a picture of how God wants us to be.He knows (and I should know) we are and will continue to be a work in progress (2ndPeter 1:5-11) until we go home to be with Him.His only desire is that we progress in that work to be Christ like.That being said, I have come to also realize that viewing God strictly as the “Judge” who is painstakingly watching our every move, to see if we are living up to the standard, is unbalanced and spiritually unhealthy.We need to see the hope of His grace and mercy while we gaze into the“perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as
an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
As I was preparing the chapter entitled,Serve One Another in our study book, the following words stood out to me,“through love serve one another.”The whole of this “one another” study can be summed up in this simple reality, to do these things (live out the one another verses) is to be like God.Our bibles teach us that “God is love” (1stJohn 4:8) and that we are to seek to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1); that is, be like Him.Gene Getz writes, “Love, as it is defined in Scripture, is the guiding principle in all Christian relationships, including the process of serving one another.”The “one another” verses reveal to us God-like love; that is, how godly love is to be revealed or witnessed in our lives.So, I am compelled to ask a seemingly foolish question; that is, who wants to be like God?Is this not the purpose of personal transformation?Paul says that the renewing of the mind is so we can “be able to know what things are good and pleasing to God and what things are perfect” (Romans 12:2, ETRV).When we come to know these things, and seek to abide in them, are we not being God like?
So, it is here that my thoughts culminate.What if I saw the “one another” verses in God’s word as God revealing to us (to me), how I can be like Him?View them as opportunities to grow in His likeness, with the understanding that God knows I need to grow, and accepts me as I am, as I seek to grow.What if the driving force behind learning these things were less about escaping judgment, and more about becoming like Him, because He lives in me now?Maybe that would help us to see with greater clarity our need to serve one another.I just want to be like Him. Dennis