November 18, 2018
Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 24:1–2; Matthew 25:14-30
Pastor SeokCheol Shin
Come to the Table – “Stewardship”
The Biblical Definition of Stewardship
Stewards are those who are employed to manage assets for their landlords. They receive full authority to run their landlords’ household in the absence and even presence of their landlords. However, it doesn’t mean that they own the property at all. It is the landlords who determine when and how long their stewards would serve their property.
If we read the Bible carefully, we will never miss the fact that God has full right of ownership of all things in the world. Genesis starts with the very first verse: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and God entrusted God’s world to the first human beings Adam and Eve and their offspring (cf. Gen. 1:26-28). Today’s Scripture from Psalms says that “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. For [God] has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1–2). Everything we have today comes from God. It is God’s. We are not the owner of the things in our life. We are merely the manager.
Let’s take a simple test to make sure we all understand. If you made $500 last week, and you have come to church on Sunday, how much of that $500 belongs to God? Someone might say, “Let me see, 10 percent of $500 – that’s $50!” No, the principle of tithing does not mean $50 is God’s, and the rest is yours. It all belongs to God.
If I believe that I am the owner, I may be in conflict with God over what I do with the things that I have. But when I understand that the Lord is the Owner, and I am only the manager, the conflict disappears, and freedom overtakes my life as I know how to use the possessions.
How to Manage God’s Possessions:
As I see God as my Owner, I must learn to think and work like God’s manager. “What should I do with all the possessions God has entrusted to me?” This morning I’d like to share three things about how we manage God’s possessions in terms of stewardship.
- The manager should know what the Owner (God) wants done with His possessions and then know how to carry out His will. Fundamentally, we should recognize that God is the giver and God gives abundantly, sacrificially and joyfully!
Here in our faith in Jesus Christ, we have the assurance of God’s blessing! None would be saved by the amount of money they give to God or works they do for God’s glory. In Christ’s sacrifice and redemption, we are privileged to inherit God’s kingdom and eternal life in it. Thanks be to God!
Yet, I still want you to think of how much Jesus Christ gave his life for us. Did he give up some parts of his body and blood? Did he give up some of his life? When he poured out his grace upon us, he did not hold anything back but put his entire life onto the cross to pay for our sins and give us eternal life in God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ own life of giving challenges us this morning as we think of our life of giving; “Am I really willing to give my whole life to God just like Jesus Christ who is my Master?” Not part of it… God the Owner of our life is not interested in part of our life, but he wants it all. Abundant, sacrificial and joyful giving can only come from a heart set on our strong faith in Jesus Christ: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
- The stewards should show good job skills for their owner God! Honestly speaking, no one likes to do a stewardship campaign because we think it is only about money, but it is actually about Christian life. When we think about stewardship and generosity in general, specifically regarding money, I want you to think about these guiding principles (from our sister Judie’s inspirational stewardship letter):
- Prayers—we promise to pray for people of all ages involved in our church.
- Presence—we promise to come to the activities of our church that interest us.
- Gifts—we promise to give a portion of what we earn to our church.
- Service—we promise to serve those who need help.
- Witness—we promise to say good things about our church and our faith.
Please think about the commitment or recommitment we are asking of you:
- Will you volunteer to greet, usher, do coffee hour, or bring someone to church?
- Will you pray for others in need of our prayers by receiving a phone call?
- Will you take part in the Sunday morning service?
- Will you work on the church building; i.e., the Grumpy Old Men? (GOMs)
- Will you make a pledge or raise your pledge?
- Are you able to pledge more to help our mission projects at home and overseas?
- God (Owner) will hold us (stewards) accountable for what we have done with the things God has entrusted to us. The Owner has complete right to examine what we have done with His property. Each will give a personal account to God. Here are a few areas of inspection:
God will check how devoted we have been to God. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul says a proper and spiritual act of worship is to give ourselves fully to our Owner to be used as God’s servant.
B) Our time
Look at Ephesians 5:15-17: “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” We will be held accountable for how we used each day that the Lord has made and given to us.
C) Our treasures
God will also hold us accountable for what we have done with the things God has entrusted to us. One of the final parables Jesus gave concerned a master who entrusted his possessions to three servants while he was away. The master, after returning, held each servant responsible for how he had used or invested what had been entrusted to him.
D) Our talents
God will examine what we have done with the gifts and talents God has granted us. God, our Owner, expects us to take the spiritual gifts and abilities He has handed us and use them for His glory. (read from Matthew 25:14-30).
God has entrusted to our management treasures, time, talents, and even our very being. All we have are to be used for God’s honor. As stewards, we must be accountable for all these things and how we used them. God has high expectations that we will serve God and grow to think and care and love like God does.
Be Faithful in Our Stewardship
If the Owner called us to give an accounting this evening, what would the record say about our giving? Would it reflect a humble belief that we are only managing what God owns? Would joy mark our life as one who gives generously because we have been faithful in our stewardship? We need to rethink how we are spending our resources for Christ and his kingdom.
Once again brothers and sisters, all that we call “ours” is actually God’s. My prayer is that we will properly manage what God has entrusted to us. Amen.