St. John Lutheran

Church

Oskaloosa, Iowa

Sharing the Joy

of His Name


 

 

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life -- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life -- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him."  Romans 12:1  (The Message)

Stewardship

Christian stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.”


“Maturing stewards do the right things for the right reasons and strive for excellence in all they do!”

Stewardship Article - March 2019


Everything we have and everything we are is a gift of God’s providential care. We understand that we’re not islands unto ourselves. We could not exist without those who have gone before us and those who walk alongside us. God has given us forefathers in family, country, and faith. We are recipients of what God worked through them. We know God provides for our well-being through these means.


He gives us farmers and ranchers so we can eat. But more than that, God created and gave us all the things those farmers and ranchers cultivate. He gave us the corn, the beans, the wheat, the cows for milking, the steers for grilling. He gave each of those things for our nourishment and sustenance. Without God creating and instilling in those things their taste, their nutritional value, etc., we would not exist.


God gives us doctors, surgeons, nurses, and hospitals. He gives us medicine and medical instruments, and, of course, He gave us everything to make those medicines and medical instruments. He instilled in those things the properties to be utilized for those purposes. Without God creating and instilling healing properties into those things – and without God creating the ability within man to learn this and implement it to serve our medical needs – we would not enjoy the health we do now.


But there’s more. He gives us gainful employment through our employers and provides for the necessities of life through the labor of our hands:


“Then Moses said to the people of Israel, ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan.’ ” (Exodus 35:30–34)


And one step back from that, He has created and given us hands, and attached to hands are arms with strength. He created us with minds to make those arms and hands move and accomplish the work set before us. And with that mind, He has given us reason and senses.


That mind, because of the reason God has instilled in it, is able to work through difficult problems before we press those arms and hands into labor. It allows us to grapple with concepts and run through scenarios instead of having to experience every situation personally. It allows us to learn from the mistakes, as well as from the accomplishments, of ourselves and others. This can be done for our entire body, all our skills and talents, everything that makes us … us.


So, everything we have and everything we are is a gift from Him. This is what we confess in the First Article of the Creed when we say that we “believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”


But that is just the First Article of the Creed. We confess two more articles that deal with God’s provision for our spiritual well-being. He sent his Son to die and be raised on the third day for our justification. He delivers that justification through the means of grace (baptism, preaching and the Word of God, and the Lord’s Supper). And to give you those means of grace, He gives pastors and teachers, etc. Literally everything we have and everything we are in this life – and the next – is an inexpressible gift from God.


And it is for this, all of this, that we give thanks. And that is what stewardship is all about — giving thanks for God’s provision for us. To give thanks is more than having an attitude of gratitude, more than just a feeling in our hearts.


It is an action. It begins in the heart, but it doesn’t stay there. It works its way out through the mouth in praise for God’s gifts and in love and charity through the hands to our neighbors in family, country, and church.


“For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey him” (The Small Catechism, 16).


So give thanks to God for His inexpressible gifts — for everything we have and everything we are. Do this not only in word but also in deed.



Our Father in heaven sent His Son, Jesus, to be our savior. His atoning sacrifice is the firstfruits of all the dead, a pleasing aroma to His Father – and ours – so that His perfect life and death count for all who believe in Him. 

He claimed us as His own children in Holy Baptism. He sustains and strengthens our faith with His Holy Word and His Body and Blood. As new creatures, who have put on Christ, we bear good fruit. We do the good works prepared for us, which He makes known to us in His Word. 

By faith then, trusting in the Word of God, we do what he says because He does not lie and al-ways keeps His promises. For “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). 

And so the Lord promises: “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). 

How do we honor the Lord with the wealth that God has given us in His generosity? By giving it generously to those whom the Lord has called us to love and support: your family, your society, and your church. And His promise is that in so doing, you will never lack.
 
I can almost hear it now: “But that’s from the Old Testament!” But our Lord Jesus Himself gives us similar promises in the New Testament. He says, at the conclusion of the parable of the tal-ents, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance” (Matt. 25:29). 

And then at the end of the parable of the dishonest manager, he says: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:10–13). 

And in His sermon on the mount, he says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19–21).
 
We have become conditioned against these promises because of their misuse by the peddlers of the prosperity gospel – the guys on TV who say you get rich by putting God in your debt. And thus, we miss out on the fact that God does reward temporal faithfulness in temporal matters with temporal blessings. 

It’s no quid pro quo. It’s all from God’s grace, His fatherly divine goodness and mercy. But those Bible passages just quoted do in fact say what they say! It’s not the Old Testament’s problem. It’s ours. It is almost as if we have become so jaded against this that we think it a virtue to be stingy with our offerings.
 
But our Father in heaven still loves to bless those who bless others. He loves to give to those who give freely and generously. In fact, he challenges us to challenge Him: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Mal. 3:10).
 
And so, while we don’t give so that we would get, we do receive from the Lord in order to give, and He will bless your giving with more receiving. For “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32)?

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Learn more about the 8 Biblical Stewardship Principles.