Sermons

Summary: As Christians, we are called to administer the grace of God in a wise manner. The message explores the scope of our assigned responsibilities.

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” [1]

For many years, it has been my practise to preach a stewardship message at least once in each calendar month. This practise grows out of a conviction that the people of God can only benefit from instruction detailing the will of God for us, and especially when the teaching instructs God’s people in the way we are to handle the grace that God has entrusted to us.

I understand that many preachers are uncomfortable speaking about administering the grace of God entrusted to His people. The denizens of this fallen world imagine that all the preacher cares about is fleecing good people out of their hard earned dollars. Tragically, there are enough examples of charlatans to lend substance to the charge. Professing Christians are often reluctant to receive a message instructing in the grace of giving, having imbibed at the polluted wells of this fallen world.

I recall one congregation I briefly pastored in New Westminster, the congregation having passed into a dim memory in that community some years ago. I requested that the treasurer provide the congregation with a statement of receipts and disbursements. She assured me that she would provide the statement. Over the course of the next several months, I made that request again and again, each time being assured that she would soon provide the statement.

When it became apparent that she was reluctant to provide a statement of the gifts and disbursements, I asked that she provide the chairman of the deacons with that particular statement so that we could at least do some planning for the budget that would be presented at a planned congregational meeting. She exploded at that, saying quite forcefully, “It is none of your business how much money we have! When we need money, I’ll tell you and you can get it from the people.” Tragically, that woman is not an exception within the Evangelical Zion. Many church leaders are quite determined not to let the people know of the manner in which the congregation handles money.

The first congregation I pastored in Canada was in the Lower Mainland. The treasurer I inherited was a former pastor of the congregation. I was young and didn’t have the experience I have today, or he would not have occupied such a position. After I came, week-by-week he would come to me and say, “We’re broke! No money! We can’t give you a support cheque.”

I would say, “That’s fine, Bill. God will provide for our family.” My wife and I would pray, literally claiming God’s promise to give daily bread; and God did provide. In fact, after about two years, we had a bit of a problem, and this treasurer was in the centre of the problem. I drove to North Vancouver to his home on a certain day and spoke with him. “Bill, you are divisive and combative. It is closer to North Vancouver than it is to Dallas, so you are going to remove yourself from the congregation.”

“You can’t do that,” he protested.

“Well,” I said quite firmly, “I have your letter of dismissal here in my jacket. If you wish, we will put the matter to a vote this coming Sunday and see if the congregation stands for truth or if the saints stand on emotion.”

Bill chose to leave, and within a few weeks congregational giving had trebled. We would never have known whether he was distributing the funds as the congregation desired because he had never provided an accounting of the moneys. He had supported another ministry that he had started some years before, and it is possible that he had shifted money from the church to that other ministry. What is apparent is that the people had been exceptionally generous, and likely had been generous for quite some time. However, we would have had no way to know since we had not had an accounting.

Such experiences cause Christians to be reluctant to underwrite the advance of the Faith. Moreover, when such disgraceful attitudes become known to outsiders—and our dishonourable attitudes are always exposed eventually—they perpetuate the caricature of churches as money grubbers. What is required is teaching on Christian responsibility. People are often surprised to discover that Jesus spoke frequently of the manner in which people handled wealth. The reason for this is that money is neutral; it is a tool used either to honour the Lord God or employed for purely selfish reasons. How we employ our moneys reveals our understanding of who we are and of our relationship to the Lord God.

When I speak of stewardship, the uninitiated may think it is a plea for money. Perhaps some imagine that the church needs money and the preacher must therefore plead for their money. I want to disabuse any who hear this message of such thinking. Though stewardship does extend to our moneys, the concept is far broader than that. In fact, the concept of stewardship has its genesis in the salvation Christ freely gives.

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