In the past three weeks three people have asked me how I (or Jean and I) practice stewardship. In each instance, these people were genuinely interested in growing as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It excites me when I see God stirring people’s hearts and minds. Now to the question.
It begins with our desire and commitment to live with a sense of purpose, based on certain beliefs. For example, we believe God, Creator, owns everything. God owns our lives, our time, and our material possessions. Knowing we belong to God influences the decisions we make.
When God commands us to tithe, give at least ten percent of our income to his Church, we understand that God is telling us to give back what already belongs to Him. Thus, it makes sense to us to obey God, especially since we, and everything we have, belong to God anyway.
But we are also aware that God gave everything to us in his Son, Jesus. Moreover, God commands us to give generously and sacrificially, as he has given to us. We take this seriously and realize that we are able to give more than 10%, so we have gradually inched our way toward giving away 14% of our gross income each year.
God is true to his word. In Malachi 3, God commands us to tithe (10%), to give faithfully, and promises his faithful provision. We have experienced God’s provision.
Thus we give because God commands us. And we know God leads us in ways that are ultimately good for us (Romans 8:28). We also give out of gratitude for blessings God has showered upon us. We have learned that living gratefully is good for us; we are happier for it.
This God thing really works! It makes a difference in our lives. Living gratefully motivates us to give our time and talent for others. While it can be tiring, even difficult, the rewards are certain and extravagant. When we give to others, we experience blessing from God. Amazingly, it really works!
Stewardship is about recognizing that God is our Creator who provides everything for us; that God intends that we would use His precious gifts for His Church and for others. It is about living and giving gratefully and cheerfully. But it is more than that.
Stewardship reflection leads us to a deeper appreciation for God’s creation. We enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and are moved not only to appreciate it, but to care to it. This is why we practice recycling in our home and here at Covenant.
As you look at the two pledge cards you will receive for our 2013 Ministry Budget and for our Building Fund, I hope you will reflect at a deep level what is most important to you. I also hope that ALL of us, 100% of us, will join together in supporting our 2013 ministry and paying down our debt. We need all of us!