Living in a time that is short on commitment and sacrifice, Christians are often unaware of how much we are subconsciously affected by postmodern culture. This is particularly true when it comes to stewardship. We often lack a biblical world and life view when it comes to being good stewards of our time, spiritual gifts, and financial resources.
God tells Job in 41:11, “Everything under heaven belongs to me.” And in Psalm 24:1 David testifies, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” It seems that Christians believe this truth about God in a general way, yet when it comes to the everyday routines of life, it is hard to think of ourselves as stewards rather than owners. The thought of having to give an account to God for what we have done with the gifts He has given is lost in the actual managing of those gifts.
The worldly message that constantly bombards our minds is “Get it while you can!” Before we know it, we are caught by the twin vices of accumulation and consumption. H. Norman Wright in his book Simplify Your Life describes the consumer oriented person as someone “who drives a bank-financed car on a bond-financed highway on credit-card gas to open a charge account at a department store so he can fill his savings-and-loan financed home with installment-purchased furniture.” To some degree we have all been enticed to spend more than we earn, and thereby create indebtedness rather than wealth. Inappropriate accumulation and consumption of things lead to poor stewardship of time, spiritual gifts, and financial resources. These vices often lead to workaholism; there is no time for family or worship. People are so busy working to get out of debt that they don’t have time to build relationships with those they love. There is no time to use spiritual gifts to edify the body of Christ. And finally, there are no financial resources to be given to kingdom work because of the need to retire debt or accumulate more things. These are just some examples of how the lack of a Christian world and life view will stifle generosity and lead to poor stewardship in every area of life.
Ron Blue in his book Generous Living defines generosity as “the willingness to give or share what you have to benefit others.” That means your time, your abilities, and your financial resources. He also says that generosity is the one ingredient that makes true freedom possible. As a matter of fact, he says if he could boil down to one sentence everything he has learned, it would be this, “Generosity and financial freedom are inextricably linked.”
The Apostle Paul uses an agriculture principle to challenge the church in regard to generosity in showing mercy. “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously…. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written; he has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” As we choose what we want to give to the poor, we should keep in mind this principle of sowing and reaping. The choice we make will also testify to our faith in God. Paul says in verse 8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you…”
If we give sparingly, we may be making a statement that God is not able to make His grace abound to us in all things, in all times, and in all we need. When opportunities arise to show mercy to the poor and those in need, do we really believe that God is able to take care of us by providing all we need, so that we can abound in every good work? Obviously the Philippians did because Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Paul has already shown in 2 Corinthians 8:3 that the Macedonians believed God was able because they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Could it be said that our generosity depends on how big a view of God we have?
Again, Ron Blue says, “We know when we are being financially generous-it is evidenced by the dents in our checkbooks.” Does your checkbook reveal dents in accumulation and consumption, or commitment and sacrifice?