Summary: Stewardship: It’s not about money, it’s about trust.
[MONEY-Tense Topic, but important]
When I was asked to preach today for Stewardship Sunday I wasn’t sure whether I should feel honored—or very afraid. Who knows? Perhaps today’s recessional will feel like a walk through the gauntlet for me!
What is it about this topic of giving that sets us on edge? Perhaps we raise our guards and put our system on high alert because we’re about to go into another session where our pastor or vestry will make yet another attempt to separate me from more of my money.
Without question the topic of money is important. In most cultures; perhaps in our American society, in particular, money represents power. We make statements with how we spend our money. We can make our voices heard with our money. We reveal who we really are with our money.
Whether we have a surplus of funds or we’re wondering about how we’re going to make it to the end of the month; our life seems to revolve around money.
So here we are in church, just minding our own business, trying to get closer to God and now we have to survive another sermon on stewardship and giving our money away.
I’d like to give you permission to take a deep breath and relax for this particular sermon. Even from the title you ought to garner a bit of relief. I truly believe that God teaches us that Stewardship is not about giving—it’s really all about trust.
[Illustration of Father Calling and Child Resisting]
Last week I had an inspiring encounter with my daughter that I’d like to share with you. You may be able to relate to this, especially if you’ve ever been a parent, or a teacher, or if you’ve ever had significant encounters with children.
One afternoon my 2-½ year old daughter woke up early from a nap. She had been suffering with a fever, so my wife and I knew that she really needed more sleep. So, wanting to give my wife a little relief I offered to get our daughter back down for the remainder of her nap.
After several minutes of cuddling and gentle encouragements, it became evident that she was committed to fighting off sleep with everything she had. Several minutes later my gentle urgings firmed up a bit as I began her very specific directives. “Honey. You must finish your nap. Daddy and mommy love you. You haven’t been feeling well. You’ve got to sleep some more.”
She soon realized I wasn’t going away and started to fuss even more and squirm. I just held on to her steadily and firmly as she fought against my embrace. I continued to reassure her, and waited patiently for her obedience.
She then moved into negotiation mode. “I need mommy. I’m ready to go to my bed. I’m done crying. Give me my feet back.” She even threw in an, ‘I’m sorry’ for good measure. All the while resisting my hold and wanted to get away.
Her she was fighting off what was best for her, because somewhere in her little head, she was convinced that she knew better than daddy. I encouraged her to ask Jesus to help her obey and take a nap, and then listened with a little surprise as she said, “Jesus, please help me obey daddy.”
Within ten seconds she surrendered her will and stopped squirming, within another ten seconds she was peacefully asleep in the arms of her loving father who knew she needed more rest.
As she slept in my arms I thought what a great picture it was of how we interact with our heavenly father.
God calls us to follow him, which requires obedience and trust, especially when we’re called to follow him into uncertainty. He knows what’s best for us, even if we don’t see it at the moment. The unknown can be a career move, a financial commitment, a family decision, or so many other life issues. When the outcome is uncertain, we naturally become afraid and instinctively our guards go up.
Fear takes many shapes and is not unique to anyone of us.
In America, the top three fears have been noted as: The fear of flying, the fear of failure and the fear of the unknown.
Fear drives us to control the ‘known’ parts of our lives. We don’t like change because it’s unpredictable. We’re comfortable with our current resources, and have things so well planned out and organized that we leave little margin for error. But in doing so, we leave no margin for obedience when we sense God calling us to something out of the ordinary. If we can’t see around the corner, we’d rather not go there.
Fear drives us to Control
[Compare | Contrast God’s Call w/ Our Resistance]