Page 253 was a mostly restful day and being a Sunday I was able to sleep in a little to start it. Once I was awake for the day, I got ready and headed to church where our Sunday School class spent some time looking at the second chapter of Philippians before beginning to go through the thirteenth chapter of John. Both chapters begin with the same theme — Jesus humbling Himself and becoming a servant to all. He also makes it clear that His serving was done as an example for us so that we would know the importance of humbling ourselves and serving others.
After out Bible study, it was time for our worship gathering where David continued a series on what we believe as a church congregation. Today’s topic was about stewardship — a topic that often makes many people uncomfortable. We like to think that our stuff is, well, our stuff and we become uncomfortable when anyone suggests that God might have a thing or two to say about how we use the stuff that we think is ours. So, what do we believe the Bible teaches about stewardship? The following are the three main points that David covered this morning:
- We believe everything belongs to God. One of the first lessons of stewardship is understanding the difference between an owner and a steward, or manager. The Bible teaches that the earth and everything in it, as well as the world and all its people, belong to God. When we think of our “stuff” as ours, we don’t have a problem with the idea that the owner should have the control and final say in how things are used — or if they’re used. The problem often comes when God wants us to use “our stuff” in ways that we don’t want to. Those are the times that put our belief in who really owns everything to the test. As a steward, we are required to use what has been entrusted to us according to the wishes and best interest of the actual owner. Part of the good news in that is that the owner, God, loves us so much that He wants us to use what belongs to Him in ways that benefit us and others — which brings us to the second point.
- We believe that what we’ve been given, we’ve been given to share. The Bible has a lot to say about God’s desire that we would look out for one another and use the possessions that God has entrusted to us in ways that benefit more than just ourselves. God calls us to follow the example of Jesus, even to the point of emptying ourselves, to be a benefit to those around us who have need. It is when we recognize God’s ownership of our resources, we then have a greater understanding of His instruction to freely give just as we have freely received. Jesus said that the one who had two cloaks should give one to the person who had none. I should point out that this act isn’t any form of forced redistribution of wealth — the sharing that Jesus requires from us is all voluntary and done out of love for Him and love for others.
- We believe true stewardship is a stewardship of our entire life, not just about money. While money is a big part of stewardship, it isn’t the only part. In fact, if we focus on managing our heart and mind in a way that shows God’s ownership over us, the money part will be easy. God has given each of us talents, gifts, and abilities that become easy to think of as ours. Yet when we surrender our life to Jesus, we affirm the fact that everything about us belongs to Him. Biblical stewardship is about using our entire life in a way that honors God so that we become a reflection of His light in a very dark world. Nothing gets left out in real stewardship. Our time, our money, our work, our recreational interests, our talents, our everything is recognized as not being ours at all, but His to be used as He desires. It is through our time in prayer, God’s Word, and Christian community that we learn how God would have us use the things He has entrusted to us.
After church we headed to lunch before spending the afternoon and evening in a combination of following hurricane Irma news and napping. I had thought a time or two about getting up to go out and see what I could photograph, but rest seemed more useful today. With no new photos, today’s photo is from Friday afternoon as I found a hummingbird bypassing the feeder for the natural nectar from a zinnia blossom. To me, there is something special about capturing in a more natural setting like this than at a feeder put up to attract them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy their beauty and photographing them whenever I can, but this is still special to me.
Much of the day the thoughts of people in Florida, or those who have temporarily fled Florida, have been heavy on my heart and mind. I continue to pray as the storm makes its way up the coast and as I pray I try to listen to how God would have me respond in addition to the praying.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Living like Jesus isn’t possible until we learn to serve like Jesus.
- Being uncomfortable with what is in God’s Word shouldn’t keep us from learning it, teaching it, or doing it.
- Once you settle the ownership issue, stewardship becomes a lot easier.
- Sharing done God’s way is always meant to benefit the body of Christ.
- God cares about what we do with money, but more importantly He cares about what we do with the life He’s given us — which includes money.
- Stewardship for the Christian should be as natural as a hummingbird drinking nectar from a flower.
- Prayer ought to express our heart to God, but it also ought to open our heart to understanding His heart for hurting people.