A Journey to Rediscover True Generosity through Stewardship
I have been thinking about the questions of how much I should give to God and what it truly means to offer Him my gifts. In doing so, I have come to realize that there is a profound depth to these seemingly simple questions. It is not just a matter of quantity or monetary contributions; rather, it speaks to the very essence of my relationship with God. While I give to the Church and support various charitable endeavors, I have been prompted to look deeper into the significance of my giving through a recent sermon by Pastor John titled “Will a man rob God?” from Eagle Hills Church. The message has caused me to consider the reasons behind my giving. What if I choose not to give? How does my giving reflect my relationship with God, my perception of myself, and my connection with others in my community? These questions have opened a gateway to a journey of self-reflection and a reevaluation of the motives that drive my generosity.
Debunking Misconceptions About Giving: The Prosperity Gospel Myth
The prosperity gospel and its detrimental distortion of the true essence of giving was the first topic that stood out in the sermon. I had observed in a few churches that I had attended in the past an almost transactional attitude about giving. It did not take long at all for me to decide that those churches were not for me because if money was that important to my salvation, what did that say about God? So, after Pastor John’s sermon and additional reading, I began to grasp the gravity and extent of this theological misconception. A quick read about it from the Britannica encyclopedia gave me an idea about its origins and extent.
In our quest for a fulfilled and abundant life, it is tempting to fall into the trap of equating material wealth and prosperity with divine favor. The prosperity gospel, with its emphasis on positive thinking, positive speech, and financial contributions to the church, promulgates the idea that these actions guarantee health, wealth, and happiness. While maintaining a positive lifestyle and active faith do bring about positive changes and contribute to a well-balanced mental state, it is crucial to recognize that reducing God’s blessings to a mere transactional exchange of wealth is a distortion that strays far from the truth of the Gospel.
When we turn to the Bible, we find numerous examples that unveil the true nature of giving and reveal the inadequacy of the prosperity gospel’s approach. One notable example is the story of Job, a man of great wealth who experienced immense loss and suffering. Job’s story demonstrates that worldly possessions do not serve as a litmus test for God’s favor or a guarantee of an easy, trouble-free life. It teaches us that true faith perseveres in the face of adversity and trusts in God’s goodness, regardless of material circumstances.
Another poignant example is found in the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27). This young man approached Jesus, seeking to inherit eternal life. Despite his adherence to the commandments, Jesus challenged him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor. The rich young ruler’s struggle revealed the entanglement of his heart with material wealth, highlighting the true challenge of giving sacrificially. Jesus’ response emphasized the difficulty of a wealthy person entering the kingdom of God, underscoring that the kingdom is not attained through transactional acts but through surrendering our hearts fully to God.
This then leads me to the second topic: the power of genuine sacrificial giving or moving from the idea of quantity to quality. It is the idea that the value of sacrificial giving goes beyond mere monetary contributions. In other words, the beauty lies in offering my time, talents, and resources in a way that truly impacts the lives of others.
Beyond Money and Possessions: Embracing a Lifestyle of Stewardship
If we were to explore the definition of stewardship in the dictionary, we would find a brief historical account, tracing its origins to the medieval era when it denoted the role of a manager in a grand household. Over time, its meaning has expanded to encompass the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. While this definition is adequate, as Christians, I believe there is more to uncover about the true essence of stewardship.
As faithful stewards of God’s blessings, it is evident to me that everything we have is a gift from Him. Our resources, talents, time, and relationships are entrusted to us to be lovingly and wisely managed for His glory. The Christian Stewardship Network (CSN) encapsulates this concept beautifully, stating, “A steward’s role is central to who he is and what he’s been called to accomplish in life and ministry.” It is not merely about the monetary value of what we give, but rather, it encompasses our entire being. Stewardship is a reflection of our character and how we manage all that God has bestowed upon us, including our relationships with Him and with others.
Being a good steward goes beyond superficial actions; it speaks to the core of our identity and purpose. It is an all-encompassing commitment to utilize everything we have for the glory of God. Every aspect of our lives is intertwined with stewardship, and we are called to embrace this responsibility with wholehearted devotion. Our resources are to be used wisely, our talents are to be shared generously, our time is to be invested purposefully, and our relationships are to be nurtured with love and care. In doing so, we bring honor to God in all our endeavors.
Embracing the Joy in Generosity
Still, In my own journey, I have come to understand that the purpose of our lives goes beyond simply being diligent workers who care for creation and others. It is not solely about the satisfaction of knowing we have been good stewards for God. There is a profound realization that being a good steward and practicing generosity encompasses so much more. At the heart of our Christian faith lies our relationship with God, our connection with our family, and our engagement within our community.
For me, this profound understanding has brought immense joy and a deep sense of connection. It is in the acts of selfless love and care for my family that I witness the hand of God shaping our lives and strengthening the bonds within our home. As we nurture their spirits and guide them in the ways of faith, we participate in God’s divine plan for our family.
Similarly, active engagement in service within the church community has been a catalyst for change and a source of hope. Seeing the impact of our collective efforts fills me with a sense of purpose and worth. The church becomes a vessel of God’s love, spreading His light throughout our community and the world. Through our faithful stewardship of God’s resources and our relationships, we experience a deep connection and joy that surpasses mere monetary contributions.
Ultimately, embracing the joy in generosity is about recognizing that our giving is not limited to material possessions. It extends to the giving of ourselves—our time, talents, and resources. It is through this heartfelt offering that we truly impact the lives of others and bring glory to God. As we align our lives with God’s purposes, we discover a profound sense of purpose and worth that transcends the boundaries of monetary value.
In conclusion, as we embark on this journey of rediscovering true generosity through stewardship, let us remember that our giving is not merely an obligation or a duty. It is a sacred opportunity to express our love, gratitude, and devotion to God. It is a chance to align our hearts with His, to participate in His transformative work, and to bring joy and connection to our families, our communities, and the world. May we continue to embrace the profound joy in giving, knowing that in doing so, we reflect the very heart of God and experience the richness of a life dedicated to Christian stewardship.
~ Written by Gene Bennett