We have begun to have a healthy discussion about Stewardship, and as the church enters Lent (a season with an emphasis on repentance) we recognize that we have great need to repent in regards to our stewardship of God’s good gifts. To word it another way, we have great need to repent of unhealthy attitudes towards the gifts God has given us. During Lent, we will consider a few specific, unhealthy stewardship habits which require our repentance.
Saint Paul puts it bluntly to Timothy, his “trainee”, “Godliness with contentment is great gain… for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:6, 10-11).
Thus, unhealthy stewardship habit #1 is coveting wealth and possessions. This can show itself in jealousy towards what other people have (but which we ourselves have not received), or with a fixation towards doing whatever is necessary in order to receive wealth and possessions (e.g. working so much to honestly earn what we need for “that thing”, but forsaking reception of the Lord’s holy gifts and our “thanks”-giving to the Lord in the process). Loving money (or the blessings of God) more than God is a sin and something from which we must flee. This is not to say, “Money is evil, so give your money to the church.” By no means! Money is a good gift from God. However, it should never become our god around which all our thoughts and lives focus.
Has money or possessions become your god? An easy test is to read the book of Haggai. Haggai was a prophet in Jerusalem during its reconstruction, but the Lord wasn’t happy with the Israelites and spoke through Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house” (Haggai 1:6-9).
Does the work of the Lord suffer because we are focused on improving our own homes and families? Does our attendance to receiving the Lord’s gifts to us falter because we are so concentrated on obtaining our own desires (even through the means of honest, hard-work). If so, Haggai calls us to repent and reconsider our gifts of thanks-giving to the Lord. The Lord (and giving thanks to the Lord) is to come first.
But Jesus gives us a promise, as well: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you(Matthew 6:31-33). If we can trust the Lord in so great a thing as our salvation, we can most certainly trust him in “so little a thing” of our daily needs. Let us bring our treasure to the Lord – our wealth and
our families – and trust that He will care for our homes and our congregation.