Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stewardship thoughts

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7 ESV) I continue to return to Psalm 20. It continues to touch my heart in new and various ways. I will think to myself that I have mined it for all it is worth and then it opens up anew. I sit in awe of the Word of God. I am amazed at the power of this simple word, written so many years ago, in a different setting than I find myself today and yet, wonder of all wonders, it seems as though it could have been written today for times such as these.

As I read this verse again, I thought about our daily lives and I wondered to myself, "What do you trust in?" My first answer was simply, "God." I patted myself on the back and thought, "My how good of a Christian you really are." Sitting back with a sigh, a smile and puffed up ego, I continued to meditate on this Word of God. And slowly the smile left my face, the ego began to deflate and I began to ask, "Really? Do you really trust in the name of the Lord our God? Or do you trust in your own way of thinking? Do you think that you have it all figured out and know what needs to be done at every moment? My shoulders sagged a little and I had to admit, "I may not trust in chariots or horses, but the way that I live my life shows that I trust in myself, my strength, and my thoughts. And I then say to my Lord, "I am sorry. Help me to trust in You alone."

What about you? Do you trust in something of this world or do you trust in the name of the Lord? As I sat in our Voters' Meeting this last Sunday, I heard many things. I heard us giving lip service to God and following Him. But I came to realize that in reality, we trust in our money and assets. We look to them for security rather than looking to God. "But," the argument would go, "I can believe in God but I must make the plans that show that everything will work out just right. We will have enough in the bank account for day to day operations and still have all our assets in place to give us security should something happen and we need it." Really? Can you really be sure that you have worked things out so that you don't have to worry? I think of the parable that Jesus told: "The land of a rich man produced plentifully and he thought to himself, 'what shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops.' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21 ESV)

As I look at this parable, I often think of the way that many of us act in the church. We look at our assets and we trust in them. We must have many assets and then we will feel comfortable and sit back and take our ease. But is that really the way that the Lord tells us to live. Is that really good, Christian "stewardship." The Lord doesn't tell the church to lay up assets for a rainy day or a tough time. Yes, He may well give the church those assets but He doesn't do it so that we can fall down on our life of stewardship. All too often, what happens, is as a people, we trust in our assets and what our plans are for the way the local congregation should go rather than to trust in God. We look to the bank account and figure that if it is big enough, we are all right. And then we forget about our daily stewardship life. We forget that we are called to be Christ-like in how we use what God has given to us. We become stingy, left-over givers. We give out of what we think we can spare rather than being first-fruit givers that trust in God and say, "Lord, You have given all to me. Out of my heart, out of faith in You, I support the work of Your congregation to this level." And then give no matter how much or how little it seems the church may or may not have. Christian stewardship is not giving to a budget. It is giving as the Lord has given to you. Does the church need it? That isn't the question. Does your faith need to act in that way? That is the real question. How does your faith act? If your giving is done only when you feel there is a need, then you are not living in faith. You are living in response to needs. Faith trust in all things and acts. Stewardship is such that it is done no matter what. If you decide that you are giving 10% then you give that amount. If you decide to only give 1%, then you give that amount. If you decide to give 20%, then you give that amount. How you act is meant to reflect your life of faith and your trust in God not to be a response to a budget.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our Lord." What do you trust in? Do your actions match what your lips say? I know that I need to look into my heart and life and ask that question. What about you?

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