Living Stewardship--the gift of time
What is Stewardship?
What do you think of when you hear the word “stewardship”? Many, if not most of you, will automatically think of money, donations, tithing—but that’s not what stewardship is. Maybe you think it’s “time, talents and treasures.” But no, that’s not stewardship either.
Stewardship is not sacrificing, nor is it denying oneself. Dictionary.com says that stewardship is “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.”
No, that’s still not correct.
Stewardship is love.
Stewardship--The Love Connection
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
When did love begin? Was it in the Garden of Eden, when Adam first saw Eve? Was it when God formed Adam? Was it when God began the creation of the Earth?
The answer is that love has always been. We were always a part of the wonderful plan of God.
He knew we would sin, but He made us nevertheless because He loved us.
Love is a Gift
In the movie Castaway Tom Hanks gets so lonely that he paints a face on a volleyball and names it Wilson. Having an imaginary relationship for him was better than no relationship at all.
God created us not as isolated beings, but to be in a relationship with others. After creating Adam, God said “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, God gave Adam a gift—Eve. Upon seeing her, Adam sang a song of joy and praise.
Unlike the false gods of other religions, our Heavenly Father not only wants us to have a relationship with each other, but with Him as well. We read that Abraham was called a friend of God (James 2:23). We see that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).
How to Share Your Gift of Love
Time is a blessing . . . a valuable yet limited treasure God places into our lives. Re-ordering your time may be a key factor in allowing you to express and enjoy the kind of life God wants for you. That means understanding your calling and how it fits into the minutes, hours, days, and years of your life.
Your calling is intertwined with being stewards of the relationships God has entrusted to you. It is lived in the different roles you have right now through which you serve God and where “the common order of Christian love” becomes real.
Love is key, and love takes time.
The Stewardship of Time
Loving God (the most important priority) with Your Time
Relationships are gifts from God, and none is greater or more important than the relationship with our heavenly Father. In the middle of all the distractions of the world he tells us to seek him with our whole being in order to intimately know him and know the full life.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
This short life is our time of grace to know and serve God. Getting closer to God through our devotional life should become a priority. Personal Bible study and prayer time has eternal benefits but also impacts every aspect of our day in ways you will only know when you are there. Sometimes we need to learn to be disciples all over again―simple learners―and make every effort to run the race he lines up for us.
Make Bible/devotional reading and prayer a priority for your relationship with God. If you don’t pick a specific time, it probably won’t happen. If you are driven by lists and calendars, make it a daily appointment. If it is new to your routine, start with small steps (five minutes a day). Starting the day with God gives him first place in our schedules and can set the direction and attitude of the rest of the day. Ending it with him renews the spirit. Let it start as a discipline and grow into a desire.
“Life isn’t about me.
It doesn’t revolve around me.
It is about Christ’s love for me that becomes the energy for my life for him.
In a tempting culture I need to be careful how I live.
It becomes my calling to make the most of every opportunity
to love God
and the people he places in my life.
Thank God he has forgiven us through Jesus
and empowers us to seize the opportunities to glorify him
in our actions toward others.”
Loving Family (where we model Christ for each other) with Your Time
We show relationships matter when we give them attention and spend time with them. God placed us into families. The relationships in families are foundational to God’s loving care for us and impact our understanding of him.
Unfortunately we experience too many broken or damaged family relationships today. The family landscape often looks like a field of dented up, rusted out cars with missing parts rather than what was intended: a showroom of God’s love.
Fatigue and time pressure are two factors that often affect families. More than previous generations, men and women today find themselves caught in the tension between job, family, church, school, and entertainment/hobbies/leisure time.
Stewardship is investing ourselves in caring for the gifts God has entrusted to us for his purposes. Near the top of that list is the gift of family (just under the supreme importance of our relationship with God).
Time is the framework in which we carry out our different callings in family life. Being faithful stewards requires examining our lives and determining how to best invest ourselves into our family in a way that pleases God.
It is time to be serious about family―as spouses, parents, and children―and begin with our own families to reverse a negative societal trend.
Loving the Church (where we visibly grow together for the cause of Christ) With Your Time
God puts us into families.
He also puts us into a spiritual family. When we come to faith in Christ, we become children of a heavenly Father. In Baptism he places his name on us (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and makes us part of something bigger than ourselves―the local and extensive family of God, with Jesus as our brother. That means everyone who has that fellowship with God is spiritually related to each other―brothers and sisters in Christ. They are THE Church.
“Apathy and indifference don’t belong in the Body of Christ. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19).
Love takes time. Together we are in an urgent partnership with a task so large we couldn’t do it alone―encouraging each other’s faith, holding each other accountable, reaching the world.
Our prayer –
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another―
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Loving Neighbors/coworkers/friends (where we shine as lights to the world) With Your Time
No matter where we turn, our stewardship is about relationships―with God, family, the body of Christ, and neighbors. It is important to be aware that everything you say and do is a witness for or against Christ’s love. That includes the way you handle problems, frustrations, delays, and disappointments. It includes your reactions to those around you. Do you show yourself as gentle or judgmental? When feeling the pressure of time and stresses are you rude and bitter or polite and patient? Christ’s love drives us to make the most of every opportunity to use our time wisely to communicate his love which drove him to die for us.
“Do everything without complaining." (Philippians 2:12).
"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:3-6
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” Philippians 2:14-15
Jesus tells us, his followers, that our lives are to be salt and light to this world. In order for “neighbors” to benefit we have to be visible so the light can shine for them―that they may see our lives and praise our Father in heaven for what they receive from him.
Lord, lead us to our neighbors wherever they might be,
that we might share your love for their lives.
Our neighbors who surround us where we live,
our neighbors who work with us,
our neighbors who dine with us,
our neighbors who pass us on the street or sit next to us on bus or train.
May we be the smile that greets,
the reassuring word,
the helpful comment,
the willing ear,
the shoulder to cry on,
the gift that blesses their life this day.
And When You Share Your Time…The Result
Christ’s love and our calling draw us to use our time for purposes that are more extraordinary than what is offered by the world. Let’s get serious about who we are and recommit our time to wisely nurture the relationships he has entrusted to us.
One of the hard things for us to remember about life is, “It is not about me.” I am not the center. God is. He built this relationship with us from ground up. He redeemed it from ruin through his Son. Now he says, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.” That is where I come to more fully delight in the richness of this relationship and grow in my relationship with others.
You can’t go back and change the past, but with an eye to the future you need to live in the moment. You have the tool of time now. You have 1,440 minutes every day to help you live out your calling as a child of God lavished with Christ’s love.
Our prayer –
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Stewardship--Living a Life of Love
Stewardship is not just another word for giving.
Stewardship is not a source of income for the church.
Stewardship is not an obligation.
Stewardship is your response to the love of God, and stewardship doesn’t start in your life until it starts in your heart.
Consider this. Every structure, no matter what it looks like, begins with the same thing. It is, in fact, the most important piece of the structure--the foundation. As Christians, our foundation is to be built on God. If you don’t know God, then there is no reason to even consider the question of stewardship. You will naturally think that everything you have is yours, everything you earned is yours and everything you can get will be yours. There is no one else to think about. But, if you have God as the source of your life, as the creator of the ends of the earth, as the lover of your soul, then you have to pause and think about what He wants.
So if we recognize God as the author and creator of life, then we need to understand that we are living in God’s creation. In the book of Genesis it says that God created the heavens and the earth even before He created us. Then he created humanity and gave us dominion over all things. In other words, it was His creation and He asked us to manage it for Him.
“Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”(about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6, selected verses)
God can make what little we have to offer go a long way. Time after time in the Scriptures God takes what is offered and extends its reach far beyond what anyone can imagine.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to building a life of Christian stewardship is trusting God. We tend to hold onto things because we worry about tomorrow.
And yet God says, “consider the sparrow… consider the lilies…” He has demonstrated His love for us by giving the ultimate gift, His only begotten son. He showed His love for us while we were yet sinners, strangers and aliens. He said I am going to do this to show you my love.
The truth is that if we know God, then we know He will open doors, He will make a way for
blessings to flow. He will take care of us. Too often we say “I’ll respond tomorrow, I’ll give later, I will volunteer to help when I have more time.”
Tomorrow may never come. We need to trust God today. We need to live life like the widow, who as bad as things looked, knew she could depend on God to take care of her.
She was blessed in her giving. She walked away satisfied even though she gave her all. She walked away knowing that God loved her.
I pray that you and I can live that way too. I pray that we will know that God loves us and that he will provide for us, so we can respond and share generously.
When we give our offerings, our talents, our gifts, our love, God turns around and gives it back to us as something beautiful, something for us, and something for the kingdom on earth that He is building.
So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the crucified for victory.
Lift high the cross;
The love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore His sacred name.
© 2014 Linda Lum