I’ve been extremely lucky as a parent. Maybe it was due to my wife and I trying to be good parents, or possibly it’s the fact that my daughter has such a generous and compassionate heart. Either way, our Emma has never been the type of child to hold too tightly to her personal stuff. She has always been willing to share with others or give to those in need.
That’s not always the case with some of us. More often than not, most people are protective of their money and personal belongings. There are all kinds of excuses for this out there too. We tell ourselves we’ve worked hard for what we have, that it’s ours and we can do with it as we please. Or, we hoard our money and things and live in fear of losing any of it. Either way, we sometimes have a skewed idea of who owns what and an even larger misunderstanding of what it means to be a giver.
Just think of the word stewardship in context of the church and immediately we imagine the collection plate being passed around and the perceived responsibility we have to tithe. While it’s true that giving to the work of the church is an important act of love and faith, stewardship is much bigger than that. It starts with the realization that God doesn’t want or really need your money. He wants you…all of you! While the money we give may vary from one Christian to another, there is one nonnegotiable that God asks of all of us. He wants us to give him 100% of ourselves.
When we believe that everything we are and everything we own belongs to God, we will then begin to understand what true stewardship is all about. It frees us to experience real faith and trust in a God who has promised to meet our every need. It allows us the blessing of not worrying about all our stuff or our livelihood and instead spend our energy and resources helping to meet the needs of those around us. And God has even promised to reward those who are generous with their blessings:
“38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
“6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 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.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
As we can see in these passages of Scripture, giving is not just a command but the expectation of the follower of God, and it’s not in the form we typically think. First, a person is meant to give from the heart, and that is only done if God has our entire heart in the first place. If so, we are no longer owners of our own resources, but rather managers who have been trusted to wisely use what we’ve been given. We become stewards with great responsibility. And it’s not just material possessions such as money, houses, or cars. It also means we are good stewards of our time, wisdom, and talents. Everything we are and everything we have belongs to God.
If we live with these thoughts in mind, we’ll no longer say, “That’s mine!,” in reference to our lives or our stuff. Instead, “in view of God’s mercy,” we’ll “offer (our) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- that is (our) true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).