The Good Life: Stewardship

These are my notes from John Gruel’s class, “The Good Life: Stewardship” on Wednesday, April 8, 2009. This was shared as a class following “The Gathering” at 1st Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.

THIS REMINDS ME OF A SERIES I TAUGHT AT OUR CHURCH IN LUBBOCK TITLED, “Lessons of Christian Stewardship from the Life of the Steward of Gondor”

Why is Stewardship season typically in the fall for churches?
– it’s budgeting time
– focus of stewardship season is usually money

steward = someone hired in a large household to manage domestic affairs
– some stewards are also on a ship

Stewardship: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care

Psalm 24:1

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

Everything belongs to God
– also Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Point 2: We are radically dependent on God
– we don’t have anything that hasn’t been given to us by God

Genesis 2:15

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it

word “subdue” implies dominion and care for

Our position in creation by God is one of trust and relationship

dominion” we’re given over the earth is as STEWARDS
– to take care of the earth, we have responsibilities

human dominion and stewardship is affected by the fall recorded in Genesis 3
– consequences for women in childbirth

part of the blessing and charge was: be fruitful and multiply
– after the fall, we can and still do that, but it’s more of a burden
– language of the painful toil for childbirth is the same as the pain for Adam in bringing crops from the ground

Now we also have the first example of domination: the male over the female
– that is not necessarily part of the original plan, that is a consequence of the Fall

Genesis 3:16-19

As a result of the fall, our relationship with creation and our Creator is distorted

Foundational assumption: when things are going well for us, we tend to forget that everything we have is a gift from God
Deut 8:10-19

Deut 8:17-20 (The Message)

If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I’m on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You’ll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn’t obey the Voice of God, your God

That gives us an accurate glimpse of what we tend to do, when things are bad and good
– when things are good, we don’t tend to call out to anyone
– this is part of who we are and tend to be: we forget our dependence on God to our peril

2 Cor 5:17-18
– a new creation that is being redeemed is the result of us abiding in Christ

Christ reconciling the world to himself, as we are reconciled we join Jesus’ work of stewardship

Personal stewardship is holistic: it involves all our bodies
– Heart: desires, will, allegiance – in this time of thinking the heart was more than the organ that pumps your blood
– Soul: nature, self
– Mind: Thoughts, speech
– Strength: action, resources

You are a steward of everything you are and everything you have

On a corporate level, we are called to stewardship as well
– creation care
– economic justice

Stewardship of our own resources: time, energy, and assets

I THINK WE CAN ALSO THINK OF OUR “ATTENTION” IN TERMS OF STEWARDSHIP

Time
– Time is money: it is a resource, we have to budget it, it is a commodity
– like money it is not our own, it is given to us by God

– Differences: we can’t store up time like money for future use
— we have to manage it for current use
— once you lose it, it’s gone

– being a steward of your time means using it as God would have you use it
– a proportionate share of your time should be dedicated to the kingdom of God

If you waste, lose or squander your time, you can’t get it back
– we need to be good stewards of our use of time

Look at Jesus’ live as an example and model of stewardship of time: Time with his Father, time with his disciples
– this does not mean “making every moment count” and living a burnout life of constant labor
– that is not good stewardship of time either
– should include some time for ministry, work, family, relationship, prayer, Sabbath
– work of time that honors God and reflects God’s will for our lives

Stewardship of time should provoke us to think about

Story from San Cosme: After finding out that John has a laundry machine, the women asked, “When do the women talk to each other”

watching TV = developing a relationship with a phosphorescent tube
– leads to screen relationship

NATIONAL TURN YOUR TV OFF WEEK IS APRIL 20-26, 2009

Story of Dave Lewis, area pastor, cutting the cable to his family’s TV

A proportionate share of your time should be set aside for God and the kingdom of God
– that proportion dependent on what has been made available to you

Stewardship of energy
– enthusiasm: personal investment
— think about college sports fans
— Presbyterians will not raise their hands in worship, but look how passionate and active we’ll get when it comes to college sports!
— where are we investing our enthusiasm and displaying our passion?
– effort: personal involvement
— personal participation

Lots easier for me to write a check than get involved with something

finding ways to invest your energy in what God is doing in the world
– remember God is doing LOTS more in the world than just what is happening in your local church and congregation
– God is very active outside your local congregation

Assets
– material assets: property, possessions

monetary stewardship: using your money as God would have you use it
– includes caring for yourself and your family (that is a Biblical responsibility)
– interesting to see how we define “caring for our families” here in North America
– includes sharing generously with others (gleaning laws are an example)
– includes learning to the Lord a portion

When we started this discussion, we were focusing on money in terms of Stewardship. Why is that?
– institutional maintenance
– to a degree, churches are like businesses

THIS IS TRUE FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES/UNIVERSITIES TOO
– it is about 80-90% of our budget now
– we have difficulty scaling that downs

you can’t keep an institutional church going without money

Is this a good reason for narrowing our focus on Stewardship to money? No.

Story of a friend who was told how much to donate to the building of a new pipe organ at his church

How should we give?
– joyfully (willingly, thankfully, cheerfully) – 2 Cor 9:7
— if you are going to give begrudgingly, don’t bother
– generously

Exodus 35

Construction of the tent in Exodus 36
– free will offerings continued to be brought

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work

This personifies generous giving

Can you imagine if we had to tell people to stop bringing so much money to church, we can’t use it all?!

Tithe is not a NT concept
– it is not in the NT
– had to do with temple worship, supporting the priesthood
– generous giving, joyful giving IS a NT concept

Church of the Savior in Washington DC
established ideal of giving proportionally to different things, rather than setting up a tithe as an absolute floor of minimum giving

Giving sacrificially
– quotation from Kathryn Ann Lindskoog:

C.S. Lewis didn’t talk about percentage giving. He said the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us. If we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little. Obstacles to charity include greed for a luxurious living, greed for money itself, fear of financial insecurity, and showy pride.

Story of John’s son Ben asking about their family financial priorities at age 11, comparing their families to others

Give compassionately
– requires the ability to see the need
– is a response to the perceived need

Story of CCC needing a new refridgerator

Galations 6:9-10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Homework for next week:

1- Evaluate your giving patterns for some of these principles: joy, generosity, proportionality, sacrifice, and compassion. Identify areas that need improvement and address them

2- Look at the people who are regularly in and out of your life, or consider some of the ministries and missions of the church. Can you ID any needs which you could compassionately address through stewardship of your time, energy and resources?

Next week: We’ll talk about Sabbath!

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