Stewardship is one of those “churchy” words that gets kicked around quite a bit, but is seldom uttered or heard outside the context of our faith community. That being the case, let me ask you; have you ever stopped to think about what the word actually means? More specifically, have you ever thought about what stewardship actually means to you? For most of my life, stewardship was a concept that I’d never given much thought to. I’ve given to the mission and ministry of the church for as long as I can remember, but did so out of a sense of duty and without giving it much thought. Looking back, I gave because it was the right thing to do but never stopped to consider why it was the right thing to do. But, I’m here to tell you, when it comes to the financial stewardship aspect of our Christian discipleship, “why” we give is every bit important to our spiritual growth as the “what” we give.
While each of you will have to determine for yourselves what Christian stewardship means to you, allow me to share with you the process by which I came to understand what Christian stewardship means in my life. In a nutshell, my under-standing came from two sources; the Bible and french fries.
First, my investigation of what the Bible had to say about stewardship and the call to give generously yielded numerous results; too numerous to list here. But, some of my favorite biblical references are Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, and 2 Corinthians 9:7. While these verses, along with the many others that I found, were very helpful in my quest for understanding, it was the french fry that really brought it all together for me. Allow me to explain.
Picture this: a father and son go to their neighborhood McDonalds for lunch. The father buys the little boy some french fries and then, doing what all of us red-blooded fathers do, he reaches across the table in hopes of snagging one of his little boy’s “fresh out of the fryer” fries. The little boy, though, slaps his father’s hand and says, “Don’t touch my french fries! They’re mine!”
Although the father complies, he’s saddened by his son’s selfishness. After all, the father knows that he bought the french fries and, technically, they belong to him. What’s more, the father knows that his little boy belongs to him as well. As he watches his little boy devour the french fries, the father thinks, “I’ve provided my son with a whole package of french fries. I just want one. Why’s my son so selfish?”
That’s when it hit me. God’s like a macro version of the french fry boy’s dad. God blesses each of us with a full pack-age of life. Just like the french fry deprived dad, God provides us with everything we have, and therefore owns everything we have; including our very lives. When God asks for us to give back to him a portion of our many blessings, too many times we figuratively slap his hand and say, “Keep your hands off my blessings! They’re mine!” But, unlike the selfish little boy, we Christians know that God has every right to expect us to be good stewards—i.e. managers—of all he provides us; our time, talents, and resources. What’s more, God has every right to expect us to give back a portion of what he has given us as a means of providing for the needs of others in his name.
While each of you have to figure out for yourselves—through prayer and study—what stewardship means to you personally, for me its all about the Word of God and french fries.
Your brother in Christ,