Do these words come to your mind when you think about Easter? And why am I writing about Easter anyway? Wasn’t that was last month. But as I reflect on this most recent Easter season and the my focus during this time on the resurrection of our Lord, these two words are strongly connected with both Easter and stewardship in my mind.
Contentment. Are you content with your belief in the resurrection? Are you content with your time of prayer or in Bible reading or study? Contentment is a key focus for all of us in the church. Flowing from contentment is thankfulness to God for the things we have, not those things that we do not have. This deeply felt contentment grows into gratitude.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians: ”I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well feed or hungry or in want, I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:11-13).
What comes to your mind when you hear the word stewardship? Often, we may think or even say to others, “I wish they would stop asking for money.”
Stewardship has made an impact in my life for over 50 years. When I joined the church in the 1960s and subsequently raised my family in the church, the question, “Why tithe, daddy?” became a family discussion that gave me the opportunity share God’s goodness to us and the many things the church would do with their small gifts to help others.
Later, I began leading Sunday school for high school students. As I taught them, I realized the idea of giving had to be made personal to have the greatest impact.
In the mid-70s I worked in Boston doing mission studies in several Boston-area Presbyterian churches where the question centered on who the missionaries of Christ were. Those out in the field or anyone who is a part of the kingdom? Stewardship is one way that we can be part of the mission.
Our BelPres finance committee is looking at a deeper, more Christ-like way of reviewing the church’s stewardship beyond just money. After all, stewardship embodies the responsible planning and management of all resources, not just financial ones. In order to help us with our task, we picked up “The “33 Laws of Stewardship” by Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery.
Laws do not always bring up the best connotations for people, so let’s explore the first three “laws” that the book discusses.
Law 1: The Law of Rightful Ownership This may be a hard one to really accept, but nothing – yes absolutely nothing – really belongs to us. We are stewards of what God created including ourselves, our time, and our possessions.
Law 2: The Law of Purposeful Possession
In the book, they tell a story of an old man who was rich in earthly possessions but spiritually poor because of the way he misused his possessions. How can we be rich toward God and his kingdom?
Law 3: The Law of Miraculous Multiplication The economics of stewardship is governed by the mathematics of the supernatural. Jesus shows how a little boy’s two fish and five loaves fed 5,000 people or more. Do you sincerely believe that these same mathematics can exist in 2016? Consider the many ways our stewardship has impacted the revival of the people on the Eastside and beyond, including the students of Eastside Academy and Jubilee REACH!
Paul’s experience in Philippians 4 clearly reflects contentment from his understanding and belief in Jesus’ resurrection. The writer continues that “contentment flows from the awareness of God’s presence and grows further from alertness to God’s purposes,” (127). This suggests we should place our confidence in Christ’s control and strength.
More discussion focuses on Paul’s prison situation, again in Philippi, “Now I want you to know brothers, what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard, that I am in chains for Christ, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word or God more courageously and fearlessly.” Phillipians 1:12-14.
How do you think that Paul could, although in chains and being flogged, could give this message to the brothers? My answer is again contentment. Content with the situation in which he found himself. Being satisfied with his situation, even though it was not ideal from all outward appearances.
Much like the crucifixion- certainly not a good situation, but God had other plans that Christ’s death, His resurrection. This is the greatest miracle of all.
Miracles like this have brought me to a regular tithe for the church plus other gifts when I can. Daily I thank God for the miracle of life and all that he has given to me.