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Posts tagged ‘stewardship’

It’s All God’s

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too.  Because God is the one who established it on the seas; God set it firmly on the waters.”  Psalm 4:1-2

Who owns the world?  Well, the short answer is “God.”  But there are those who would dispute that.  I have heard:  “I worked for everything I have, so I own it – it’s mine.”  “We have what we have because we have earned it.  We own it, and we decide what to give to God.”

In light of the devastating fires in California over this September (of 2015), I wonder how much all that “stuff” really mattered when put side by side with saving lives.  Listen, I am as tied to my possessions as many people, and it’s hard to remember that I wouldn’t have it if God hadn’t given human beings the ability to think, create, invent, improve, and sell.  Yet, we so often are caught up in our “things” and forget that in essence, God owns it.

That’s where stewardship comes into the picture.  God may own it, but God also needs us to care for it and to use it wisely.  That goes for the earth, the animals, our possessions, and very importantly, other human beings.  Care of creation is God’s calling in our lives.

When I was serving a previous church, the Bible study group called me to accountability about recycling.  It wasn’t that I didn’t recycle, I just didn’t do it very well.  I think I was rather careless about it.  Now, nearly 20 years later, I am far more conscientious about it and maybe even a little over the top!  However, I’ve greatly improved my ability to remember to throw the recyclables in their container.

How do we do that with the living creatures, the earth, and humans?  When a family in one of my churches unexpectedly had a horse die, we held a burial service, and I used Genesis 1 to talk about caring for God’s creatures.  They had done that well, and it was a devastating loss for them.

Having grown up in farm country in the Midwest, I admire those who till the land and respect the food they grow.  I see it wherever I have lived.  Farmers and tillers of the soil have a passion for their gardening, growing, fertilizing, nurturing, and the care of the fields.  They are caring for the earth as well as bringing food to many people’s tables.

Perhaps the human element of stewardship is the hardest because we are called to love God first and foremost and then to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).  Loving ourselves is sometimes the hardest part of stewardship, and loving others with care and nurture can also be challenging.

Yet stewardship of the earth includes all of God’s creation, and that includes EVERYTHING!  We ultimately don’t own anything, but we do have responsibility for it.  May we take our charge seriously and care for God’s creation with love and joy.

Investing for God

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip.  He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them.  To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one.  He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability.  Then he left on his journey.”  Matthew 25:14-15 (NRSV)

This parable inspired me to think about a great stock market in heaven where we are all trying to invest in a piece of God’s kingdom.  The twist is that it is God who has given us the money or gifts or talents to invest.  We invest for God.  I wonder if that would help us think a little differently about the ways we use our time, talent, and treasure.

Thinking about the ways we are good stewards of what God has given us helps us to remember that it really is God who gives them to us.  All that we have is from God, and, in turn, God asks us to give back the best of them to glorify God’s name.  Putting God first and taking the responsibility for having return on our investments means that we are using our gifts and talents to the best of our ability.

I’m not sure I would compare the owner in this parable to God since he was also described by the servant with only one coin as hard and even dishonest.  Maybe the point really isn’t about the owner as much as it is about the servants and how they took care of what they had been entrusted with.  The first two doubled their investments so the owner gave them more responsibility.  The servant who had one coin (or talent as some translations read) buried his treasure and didn’t use it.  At least the owner received back the original investment, but he wasn’t happy with the way the servant had handled his money.

If this parable is about how we are asked to care for God’s world, then we should take notice about how we build that kingdom here on earth.  We can’t build it by hiding or burying our gifts and talents – not using them.  It is only by sharing of our time, talents, and treasures that we are able to work for Christ in this world.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, is credited with having said, “Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”  It makes sense.  We work honestly to make a living so we can care for ourselves and our families.  Whatever we can save that will help us get through emergencies or financial challenges is good – it’s good to have a “nest egg” if we can do it.  Giving all we can means that we don’t forget those who are needy, and we continue to work to help them in whatever ways we are able.

Sharing our time, talent, and treasure to glorify God means that we are using the gifts God has given us, and that we are investing our lives for God to make this world a better place.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

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