I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.- Maya Angelou
Stewardship is a counter-cultural practice that is fundamental to a growing, vibrant discipleship. What do I mean? We live in a culture that celebrates wealth, that encourages accumulation, and that promotes ownership as an ideal. We work hard so that we can not only pay our bills, but enjoy the “nice” things in life – flat screen TV’s, well-made cars, regular trips abroad, and all sorts of gadgets. We work hard to ensure our own security as well as the security of our children and grand-children, and being secure is wholly tied up with how much money is in our savings, our stocks, and our IRA’s. We are afraid of giving for all sorts of reasons: that there is only so much to give, that if we give we will not have any
for ourselves, that others do not deserve our giving, etc. It is almost impossible not to be influenced by our culture in some way.
The practice of stewardship resists and opposes our culture head on. It draws our attention to God, our Source, rather than to ourselves. It invites us to rest in God’s abundance and generosity, trusting that indeed, we will have all we need. It celebrates the Kingdom of God and God’s dream – where all are welcomed and all have enough. It broadens our vision from ourselves to the possibility of wholeness for all of God’s people and creation. It inspires us with the affirmation that we are an incredible part of that vision. It encourages giving generously and extravagantly, just like God does. And it promotes service and the recognition that we are the managers, not the owners, of the hard-earned money we have, the 24 hours in our day, and the skills and gifts we bring. Stewardship – the practice of intentional, prayerful, grateful response to God’s gifting – enables a concrete way for us to live this out. At the end of the day, our giving – be it of our time, our prayers, our gifts, our witness or service – significantly shapes us and
molds us into the people we want to be, the people we are called to be, into the likeness of Christ.
In the old hymn, “Spirit of the Living God”, we invite God’s Spirit to melt us, mold us, fill us and use us. How does this happen? How does the Holy Spirit melt and mold, fill and use? Practicing stewardship in all its complexity and simplicity, is an every day we can live this prayer. When we loosen our own grip on “our” money, we live into trusting God and depending on God. When we share our time, we live into recognizing and affirming ourselves as vehicles for God working in the world. When we make use of our gifts and skills in ways that contribute to the good of the whole, we live into God’s kingdom here and now. That is the promise. That is the miracle. Thanks be to God!