In I Choronicles 29:14, we read “All things come from you, O Lord, and of Your own have we given You.”
I was asked to share about my experience in stewardship. Two facets of stewardship I would like to reflect on today is 1) Stewardship is more than our financial giving, but how we use who we are and what we have, in response to God’s love and mercy. And 2) Everything we offer to God was His in the first place.
I was the daughter of missionaries, and never knew a time that stewardship was not a topic of discussion. Sometimes the conversation was based in fear because Dad had not received a salary in months, and to my mind that meant supporters had not been faithful. Sometimes the message I received was that if I didn’t tithe, my salvation might be in question. But in middle of these misconceptions was good teaching.
I saw faithfulness modeled in my parents and others who had given their life’s work in response to God’s call. I was taught and expected to tithe my 10 cent allowance, to help with housework, child care, to teach Sunday School and VBS, to be kind and good particularly to disadvantaged people.
In a set of booklets, Little Suzy books, there was a story of how Suzy began to see that stewardship was more than her nickel in the offering. So when the usher came to her pew, she asked him to lower the offering plate to the floor, then she stood in it, signifying that she was giving her whole self to the Lord. I was 9 or 10 when I read this story and it taught me some of the big picture of stewardship.
I have gone through lots of stages….giving, sharing and helping thinking I could earn brownie points with the Lord, and hoping to receive something in return. In my 20′s I just didn’t want to think about my responsibility in financial giving, even though I was part of a lively Christian community and took my job as a nurse seriously. After I married, my husband Jim saw his career as a highway engineer as part of his stewardship to God, and from Jim I learned that how we live our day to day life is our response to God’s gift of Salvation. For us, along side of our financial support of our church and other ministries, we saw our stewardship responsibility in how we related to each other, in adopting a 16 year old orphaned boy from the Philippines, opening our home frequently to international students, and working in Habitat for Humanity projects.
After Jim’s death, I was confident that I had the financial means to live a comfortable life. Then a combination of the recession and other circumstances came and took much of that away. In this journey, I have learned that I am returning to God in giving financially what was His anyway, no matter the amount. What I have is from the Lord, and my response should come out of thanksgiving for his Grace, Love and Salvation.
Again, I Choronicles 29:14, this time from the Message
“Everything comes from You, and all we are doing is giving back what we have been given from your generous hand.”