What is Stewardship?
Christian stewardship is the faithful management of our financial resources and all we have. It begins with the understanding that all we have is God’s (Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein”) and that “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Tim. 6:7). “He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life…without any merit or worthiness in me” as we confess from the Small Catechism.
Because all we have is God’s, we should use it for His purposes. God’s purpose for us in our lives is expressed in the various vocations, or callings, that we have. So, for example, a father and mother use their income to feed, clothe, and protect their children. A citizen pays a portion of his income to his governors via a tax.
Besides the vocations that each of us have in our family life and in society, we are also all Christians and members of this parish. How do we use our income faithfully in regard to this vocation? To learn this we must look to God’s Word.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
Luke 16:13 Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.”
Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Malachi 3:8-9 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9:6-8 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also…The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
What does this mean?
Your heart always goes where you put God’s money. Stewardship is not an optional part of the Christian’s life; it is the living out of a Christian’s dependence on God. As such, faith and finances are inseparable. True joy is not found in storing up the things of this world, for the things of this world won’t last. True joy is found in clinging to Christ who poured out His Life for you on the cross and now gives you His Life in Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. The things of this world are temporarily given to us by God to make use of, and we will be called to account for how we manage the Owner’s things (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10). As we see in the Table of Duties (again from the Small Catechism), hearers contribute out of God’s gifts to them in order to provide for and ensure the continuation of the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in their midst, and to show mercy to and provide for the needs of their neighbor.
This month, prayerfully consider your giving to God’s work in His Church. Are you faithfully giving a first-fruits tithe (10%) of your income to the work of God? Are you, as St. Paul says, “excelling in this act of grace”? If not, why not? Next month we’ll consider more of what God says about stewardship – specifically more about tithing (the Biblical practice of giving a tenth of our income to God’s work in the Church) – and provide steps for planning your giving for next year.
Peace in Christ,