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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Invitation into Stewardship

4-5 Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself!
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings
   and flies off into the wild blue yonder.
(Proverbs 23:4-5)

The more we watch the news these days, check in incessantly on the status of our investments, and listen to the doomsday picture painted by those who analyze the status of our financial institutions, the more we move into a panic mode as it relates to our "financial security".  We begin to envision the worst - because the picture laid out for us by those who have a "big picture" view of the state of things.  Scripture has a lot to say to us about our relationship with our money.  Our passage today reminds us that we can "wear ourselves out" trying to get rich - and even more so when we are trying to "keep" the riches we have amassed in an economy that is failing.

Wealth can really be defined as anything that we have in great quantity that we have laid up in store for future use.  Jesus reminded his disciples that laying up treasures on this earth is a great waste of our time - it is the treasures in heaven that matter.  When we think of "wealth" in our society, we think of the amassing of goods, finances, or even property.  When Jesus referred to wealth in the "kingdom economy", he was thinking about positive character, richness in mercy, and fullness of grace.  Two differing views - two very different outcomes.

I don't want to imply that wisely planning for our futures is not supported in scripture.  In fact, we are told to make wise use of all that is given to us - all increase is to be wisely invested and utilized in the best manner.  We are warned against waste, reminded of the importance of sharing with those that don't have the same blessings we enjoy, and to be good providers for our family.  In scripture, this is referred to as stewardship.  

A steward is one who manages the property of another.  This should give us some insight into our "wealth" - it is not our own.  God give us the increase so that we can be channels of blessing into the lives of others.  If this is the view we have of our "increase", then we are less likely to be consumed by the increase (we don't spend a lot of time fretting over the outcome).  

Our invitation today is to come into a place of stewardship - the guardian of what we have been given, in service to those we are placed with in this walk of life.  The call is to not be given to a doomsday mentality - be wise in your spending, saving for your future, plan for the unexpected expenditures (like the new roof, the car repair, or the trip to the vet).  This is wisdom.  Then turn yourself to focusing on how you can be a blessing in the lives of others - in the furthering of the gospel, the changing of lives imprisoned in poverty, or delivering a soul from the darkness of their emotional prison.

These are worthwhile uses of our "wealth" - whether it is great or little.  In this season of giving, ask God what he would have you do to set aside something for a special purpose that he will reveal to you in the weeks ahead. It may be to support a local shelter, or to deliver sack lunches to the homeless in your city streets.   It may be to support the work of a children's ministry in your church, or to drive a disabled person to their doctor's appointments.  God's use of your "wealth" goes beyond the monetary - to the use of your time, talents, and yes, your treasures.  

How is God directing you to be a steward of what he has given you today?