Summary: Stewardship is about more than what we do with 10% of our check. That is not all God is asking for. So what does God really want in the offering plate?
4. Spiritual Disciplines Series
May 3rd, 2009
The parable of the talents indicates that we will be held accountable for what we do with the time that we have been given. The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Everything that is belongs to God. We do not own anything we manage. As managers how we use what God has entrusted us reflects our stewardship. Look at Joseph. He was a slave in Potiphar’s house and yet he was put in charge of everything. Potiphar gave Joseph control of his entire household and entrusted everything he owned to Joseph. So Joseph managed everything that Potiphar owned. All Potiphar worried about was what to eat Joseph took care of the rest. Joseph was a steward of Potiphar’s estate. In this same way we are like Joseph in God’s house. We do not own any of the things we have we merely manage what God has entrusted us with to the best of our ability. We are stewards of God called to use what He entrusts us with for His kingdom. We are to use the tools God has given us to make Him an offering.
So what does God really want you to put in the offering plates? Have you ever thought about that? So often we view our stewardship as merely financial. We have come to believe that all God is asking for is our money so when anyone talks about stewardship we naturally assume money is the real issue they are getting at. I know of a church that has recently changed their core values. The change is truly inspiring. Here are the three focus points this church set their vision on: attend, give, place membership. Yikes. These are the three things they are saying are of central importance to them. What’s worse is that they made huge banners and placed them up in the sanctuary. Can you imagine walking into a church for the first time to see that? There are so many people who already believe that churches only care about attendance and giving and while so often that is not true, this church advertises it. They are saying the church is about showing up, giving your money, and placing membership. Is that really what God wants you to put in the offering plate? 10% of a check and Sunday mornings?
There is a certain aspect of stewardship that deals with money. We see in Matthew 6:4 the significance money can have in our lives:
Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Money is so often linked with stewardship because money is so often the thing that gets in the way. The problem with money is that it is the tool that we use to gain independence from God. It can be helpful but often gets in the way as it seeks mastery of our hearts. American Christianity typically struggles with dichotomy of servitude. Our culture trains us to seek money because our culture is built around time and money. So we struggle as to which one we will really serve. Many of us try to serve both. That is the real problem. You cannot. Jesus says it clear as day ‘you cannot serve both God and money.’ Why? Only one can be the master of your heart. That doesn’t mean we cannot be Godly and wealthy it means that we will either pursue God or pursue wealth. One of these two will ultimately dominate our time and attention. What will essentially happen is that at some point in trying to get it all both God and money will demand our attention at the same time and the location of our hearts and the master we truly serve will be revealed. So when we give God our money essentially what we are doing if tangibly declaring our allegiance to Him. How we use our money is a spiritual thing.
We spend so much time in our lives working for money that in a very real sense our money represents us. Thus our priority in spending directly reflects our priority in life. How we use our money expresses who we are, our priorities, our values, and where our hearts are. When we pour our finances into the kingdom of God we invest our hearts in the kingdom of God. Giving is not a prerequisite to a Godly life it is a direct result of one. So money is important but is that really what God wants in the offering plate?
When we give ourselves to things that are not God, invest our time in other ways, spend our money on things to distract us from God we are robbing Him of His due. The primary aspects of stewardship revolve around how we spend our time and money. God owns our money, our time, our energy. When we use it for something other than Him we rob Him of what is His. Stewardship is simple: give God what is His, which is everything. There is no room for half hearted efforts. There is no place for walking the fence. You are in or you are out. If you want to know what God wants you to put in the offering plate the answer is simple. It comes from Romans 12:1