Stewardship Emphasis begins in October as we reflect upon the biblical concept that we are stewards of what God has given us; we own nothing, not even ourselves. We will be asking each of us to consider our giving for 2015. 2015!!!! What!!!!! Yes, 2015. It is critical that we plan and prepare for the future of the ministry in which we share.
Research suggests that Americans give between 2.5-3% of their income to charitable causes. A portion of this goes to the church. Biblical teaching reveals that giving and generosity are important to God; thus they are important qualities of anyone claiming to follow Jesus. If we ask ourselves what it means to be generous, what do you think? Again, the Bible seems to define generosity in this way: generosity entails giving sacrificially, giving joyfully, giving everything and giving the tithe.
What is a tithe? There is some confusion within the church. Many think the tithe is whatever a person gives. Actually, the word “tithe” means tenth; it refers to the spiritual practice of giving 10% of one’s income to the work of God’s kingdom. Malachi 3:8-10 challenges us to trust God more deeply in our giving. Biblical stewardship calls us to new depths of faith as we reconsider our giving, honoring the standard of tithing, giving 10% of our income to the building of God’s kingdom.
In order to do this, we likely would have to reorder our priorities, a process that is both difficult and good for us. It puts us on the path of God; it leads us to understand rightly what true wealth is. The secular world equates affluence with success and happiness, which leads us to lust after more money and place our sense of security in how much material wealth we have. How much is enough? It’s always a little bit more. It’s a dead end. In the Kingdom of God, however, the accumulation of wealth is not promoted. Proverbs 11:28 says, “ Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”Rather, generosity is lauded as the example we should follow.
As we look to the new year, the future, will you honestly and prayerfully consider what you will give for the building of God’s kingdom through Covenant? Later this month we will ask each person/family to make a faith promise(pledge) to our 2015 Ministry Budget; in addition we will ask each of us to make a similar faith promise(pledge) to our Building Fund. Our goal, our hope, is that 100% of our Covenant family will participate. The Building Fund will be a three year commitment as we seek to pay our debt for the facilities we and our community enjoy. Pledging is simply a way of planning how and how much we will give.
The Bible teaches through the prophet Malachi and the Gospel of Luke(6:38) that God promises to bless us when we are generous. That doesn’t mean you will come into a lot of money; it mean you will experience the richness of God’s faithful provision, which comes in many ways. I know I have experienced this, and am deeply thankful. Of equal importance in scripture is the notion that we give out of our gratitude. Grateful people give more freely and cheerfully. As we reflect upon the ministry of Covenant, the DIFFERENCE WE MAKE IN OUR LIVES AND IN THE LIVES IN OUR COMMUNITY AND WORLD, may we recommit ourselves to growing in the riches of God’s grace. As we do so we will become more generous, as God is generous.