Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A new bike pump

We might not know what is missing until we look for it. The other day I needed my bike tire pump. Doggone if I could find it. I went into bins, pulled out cabinet items, and no pump. The thing had vanished into thin air! I never knew it was misplaced until I needed it to fill the new tires and tubes on my 'new to me' bike I was blessed with! It is a good pump - the kind that fits onto the frame of your bike. I knew where I thought it had been, but then I looked in all the places it might have gravitated into, but alas...no pump. The next step was to buy another one, so off to the hardware store I went. It still hasn't shown up, but I expect it to at some point. What I feel bad about is that I wasn't a good steward of my 'tools' for the task at hand. I usually do a better job than that at maintaining an awareness of where my resources are, but not this time. God calls us to steward some pretty significant stuff in our lives - like grace, truth, and love - but it is quite possible we could misplace these if we are inattentive to them, as well!

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. We are reminded 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. We steward our riches - they aren't really just earned and spent - they are to be watch over, used wisely, and given freely.

Wealth can really be defined as anything that we have in great quantity that we have laid up in store for future use. Jesus reminds us 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 the lack of those things that leads to poverty for some. When Jesus referred to wealth in the "kingdom economy", he was thinking about positive character, richness in mercy, and fullness of grace, just to name a few. 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). We are 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. Exert wisdom in that which you are called to steward - riches and bike pumps! 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 (and repair of a friend's bike tires).

These are worthwhile uses of our "wealth" - whether it is great or little. 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 (and bike pumps). How is God directing you to be a steward of what he has given you today? Just askin!