Summary: I am called to manage God’s resources not consume them.
My practical training to better understand my role as a steward of God’s resources started when Doreen and I bought a Medicine Shoppe Franchise way back in 1978. This purchase gave me an excellent working paradigm to apply to my future life as a steward. This was a store that had been open for three years but was loosing money. The immediate challenge was to plug the holes so the ship didn’t sink. The largest -- most out standing -- item on the former owners profit and loss statement was the pharmacist salary. After discussing the situation with my nervous but supporting wife, we agreed to TAKE a much lower salary than the previous pharmacist was given. This difference not only allowed us to operate in the black ---- it provided an excess for advertising and aggressive promotion. The business was generating cash flow but others had to be paid first -- suppliers, employees , utilities, rent, loans, franchise fees etc. Even though sizable amounts of money passed through our hands, we could only take what we needed. Had we succumbed to the notion that the daily deposits were in any way ours, we would not have survived. Had we bought Satan’s lies about deserving more we would not have survived. We could not use more of this money to satisfy our every want and desire.
As the business prospered and generated more cash flow we always had to realize that only a relatively small amount was available for our personal use. Profits had to remain in the business to sustain growth.
I did not, at this time, connect this business experience with my responsibility to be one of God’s many stewards.
Prior to our coming to Mount Olive, I thought what I earned was mine. I thought that if I gave God ten percent of my gross earnings I was a pretty good citizen of the church ---- I was a Pharisee in this situation. I was obeying the law -- what more could God want?
My mind set changed shortly after we came to Mount olive in 2002. The Holy Spirit reached this slow learner while I was taking one of the crossways bible study courses here. I learned that God is not only creator of heaven and earth, he is the owner. If God owns everything ----- If even my ability to earn comes from Him as a gift --- how can I possibly give Him anything? I can only take less of what He has put in my hands. I am called to manage His resources not CONSUME them. It is the same situation as the Medicine Shoppe. If I took everything, the business would have failed to grow --- If I take all of God’s resources for my own wants and desires, how can I participate in helping His kingdom to grow?
God gives us a lifetime of earnings along with time and talents --- look at the total sometime --- you might be shocked. This is a pretty big pile of God’s money to manage.
I find myself faced with a choice :
1. I can spend it all on myself satisfying every want and desire that Satan tells me I deserve and MAYBEE toss God some table scraps now and then.
2. I can honor God in how I manage His money. He is not a harsh master -- He will provide for all of my needs, my tithe, some wants and occasional desires out of what he gives me to mange and I will still have the ability to additionally support His work in the Church beyond the tithe with time talents and treasure. This I do to honor Him and as a joyful response to Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross for me.
With God’s help, my audience of one, I choose the later.