Jesus talks about money. Quite a lot actually. Widows and mites (Mk 12:42). Fools and their possessions (Lk 12:20). The necessity of mammon, but the priority of righteousness (Mt 6:26). Rendering unto Caesar (Mt 22:21). Countless places, in fact. Our Lord has plenty to say about money - how it ought to be made, what purpose it ought to serve, warnings and advice, exhortations and commands. All of this falls unto the discussion of what we are Christians typically call “stewardship.”
Good Christian folk tend to balk at this word. Yet stewardship includes much more than money. It is daily bread. To borrow from the catechism, “daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body.” Stewardship goes beyond this even. For God does not need your money. He’s not interested in having your stuff. He wants you. All of you. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein (Ps 24:1). One hymn puts it this way: “We give Thee but Thine own, Whate’er the gift may be; All that we have is Thine alone; A trust, O Lord, from Thee” (LSB 781:1).
All that we have comes from God. What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Cor 4:7) St Paul asks the Christians in Corinth. And he says elsewhere, we brought nothing into the world, as we cannot take anything out of the world (1 Tim 6:7). Christians stewardship begins with reception of God’s good gifts. Not merely the daily bread and mammon of this body and life, but primarily the Good and Perfect Gift coming down from above, that is, full and free forgiveness of all of your sins, an abundance of mercy and showering of grace and love on account of the faithful stewardship of our Lord Jesus Christ who poured out His lifeblood for us upon the Cross and now gives you His life in Word, Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.
The things of this world are temporarily entrusted to us by God; they are never ours. God owns all things and we have been called to account for how we manage the Owner’s things (Mt 25:14-19; Rom 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:10). Stewardship is not a subcategory of the Christian life. It is the Christian life. To receive from God in faith and to serve our neighbor in love using the very means which He has so generously bestowed.
Thus faith and finances are inseparable. True joy is found in not storing up the things of this world, for the things of this world won’t last. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rat destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Mt 6:19). True joy is found in clinging to Jesus Christ and His righteousness; holding fast to what He bestows in Word and Sacrament; receiving by faith from His gracious heart. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mt 6:20-21).
Much more can and ought to be said about Christian stewardship, vocation, faithful duty and righteous obligation. Perhaps it would benefit us as a family in Christ at St Peter’s to study more in-depth what the Holy Scriptures have to say regarding stewardship, not only of money, but of our entire lives in Christ Jesus. But for now, this short essay will suffice and is meant to be in concert with the first part of this month’s newsletter regarding the new opportunity of utilizing e-giving as a way of bringing your offering and participating in the support and proclamation of the Gospel and the mercy of God in Christ Jesus here at St Peter’s, in our community, and around the world. I leave you with these two passages from First and Second Corinthians:
On the first day of the week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper (1 Cor 16:2).
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Cor 9:6-8).
From: The Visitation 2018, edited by Pastor Kearney 2022
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