Summary: Stewardship is the way we express our love for God.
1. We are nearing the end of our series Bible Jeopardy: You Know The Answer, What Is The Question? (Overhead 1) As both a brief summary and a set up for introducing today’s topic, here are the questions that we have asked. (Overhead 2) All of these are a part of our topic for today because what we do with the information that has been presented during these last 10 weeks illustrates today’s topic. And what is today’s topic? Well, let’s find out!
2. Here are two statements that I will share and you tell me what the question is, just like in Jeopardy. Ready? Here goes: A. It is a church topic that probably creates more discomfort with people than anything else. What is giving/tithing? B. A common statement regarding this topic is this one, “All the church wants is money, money, money.” What is giving/tithing? The correct question is this one: What is stewardship?
3. But, there is much, much more to stewardship than money. And here are some important illustrations of this point:
A. For example we are to be good stewards of our facility with our musical instruments. (Show Your Church, March/April 2002 page 68 cartoon) Cartoon 1
B. And with our lights. (Show Your Church, March/April 2002 page 31 cartoon) Cartoon 2
C. But, when it comes right down to it, money still is a big issue! (Show Leadership, Summer 2000 cartoon). Cartoon 3
But, what is stewardship? Here is a suggested definition of stewardship: (Overhead 3 – Main Point) Stewardship is the way we express our love for God.
4. After my sermon last year about this time on stewardship, I continued to reflect on the topic and I put my reflections in the form of this chart. Which I am handing out to you right now. (Overhead 4) Take a moment to familiarize yourself with this chart.
Please notice that there are two axis. The up/down axis goes from faithful to unfaithful and the scripture passage is I Corinthians 4:2 which says, “Now a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” Managers are loved and managers are scorned. Some are highly regarded and some are not. However, another way of talking about stewardship in 21st century terms is management. Throws a different light on the issue doesn’t it? But, we are all managers. God has given to us the responsibility for managing our lives and everything that is a part of it.
In this passage Paul is defending himself against a situation in which he is being compared to another church worker. People have taken sides and it has caused problems. So Paul defends himself and asks in verse 3 and following, “Have I been faithful? Have I been a good manager? God will be the final judge of that!” We need to ask ourselves, individually and congregationally, “Are we being faithful to what has been given to us? Are we being good managers?”
5. Please look at the left to right axis. It goes from inactive to active and the passage illustrating this is the story of the three servants in Matthew 25: 14-30. Jesus is illustrating what God’s kingdom is like. It is an uninviting portrait because what it really shows is that we will all give an accounting of our lives to God one day and we don’t like to think about that on a regular basis.