When I use the term “stewardship” what comes to your mind? Do you focus only on your finances? Does your mind race to the preacher in the pulpit that is constantly demanding more money and “if you give” you will receive some sort of special gift or miracle as if God only blesses if we give to “their” particular ministry? For others, it is that annual event or plea that takes place in most churches where the pastor preaches a series of messages on being a “good steward” by giving more money. The reality, however, is that stewardship is more than just money, it is a lifestyle where we recognize that all we possess, whether it is money, talent, friends or possessions, belong to God. God owns it. But, we have the privilege and the responsibility to manage what we have been given. And how we manage what God has given, speaks much about our worship to God.
I love what John Piper said in one of his messages entitled “Magnifying God with Money” (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.) The inner essence of worship is the treasuring of God as infinitely valuable above everything. The outer forms of worship are the acts that show how much we treasure God. Therefore all of life is meant to be worship because God said whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – all of life – do it all to show how valuable the glory of God is to you (1 Corinthians 10:31). Money and things are a big part of life, and therefore God intends them to be a big part of worship – since all of life is to be worship. So the way you worship with your money and your possessions is to get them and use them and lose them in a way that shows how much you treasure God – not money.
A number of years ago in a church I pastored in New York, a gentleman came up to me and handed me a check at the end of the service. I looked and the check was for more than $10,000. I ask the gentleman what this was and he said that since he did not like the last pastor or what was happening in the church at the time, he had withheld his tithe until he was more secure in what was happening. He had placed the money in a savings account and was now feeling pretty good about the condition of the church. Initially, I was reluctant to take the money but I did. Then it dawned on me that he said that he had placed the money in a savings account. I proceeded to ask him about the interest the money had made since he had taken what rightfully belonged to God and placed it in a savings account. The next week he brought me a check for the interest on the account.
The point is that too often we narrow the focus of stewardship to finances and while that is a huge part of it, there is more. The fact is our lives must be worship to God so how we handle what we have been given speaks of how much we honor and worship God. Real stewardship includes our money, our time, and our talents. In reality it is about everything we are and everything we do. Do we mange our lives in a way that brings glory and honor to God? If we do, then giving our tithes and offerings to the church will not be a burden but it will be an honor to do so and it will be worship that magnifies and honors God. In essence, we are saying “We trust you Lord.”
God has been faithful and he has provided for us in so many ways but the challenge is for us all to step up to the plate and honor God with our giving and our lives. This means that we will no longer sit on the sidelines but we will all get into the game. We participate by giving abundantly to God. We participate by getting involved. We participate by sharing our faith with someone that does not know Christ. We participate by bringing an encouraging word to someone that needs a shoulder to cry on.
By the way John Piper finished his sermon with these words:
I close by simply relating these four points to the corporate act of worship we call “the offering.” This moment and this act in our service will be worship for you, regardless of the amount – from the widow’s mite to the millionaire’s thousands – if by giving you say from the heart: 1) I hereby trust you, God, as my happy, generous Shepherd, Father and King, so that I will not be afraid when I have less money for myself in supplying the needs of others; 2) I hereby resist the incredible pressure in our culture to accumulate more and more and cast my lot with the impulse to simplicity for the sake of others; 3) I hereby lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth so that my joy in God will be maximized forever; and 4) with this offering I declare that since my treasure is in heaven, my heart goes after God.
Are you ready for the challenge? Let’s do it. In advance, I celebrate what God is going do when we are faithful as stewards of the blessing He has given us. To God be the Glory!!!!!