Fall is here and that means it’s the time of year when we typically focus on Stewardship specifically the Stewardship of our Financial Resources. Many in our congregations will wrestle with the question, “How much is enough?”
If only God would give us a simple way to determine how much is enough! For some the answer is the tithe. But tithing is beyond the reach of many, and it suggests to others that if God gets 10 percent the rest is ours to do with as we please. Because all of “ours” belongs to God, God asks us to submit all of it in obedient service. Our job is to do that as faithfully as possible.
How we offer everything to God, may depend on our calling. All are called to faith in Christ, but within the community of faith, people have differing gifts and some have special callings – as pastors, teachers, and missionaries. And some, like the rich young man, are called to sell everything and give to the poor.
In our day, many choose to give up possessions and live in voluntary poverty in order to serve the poor. Most of them do so quietly and without fanfare. And countless more, though not selling their possessions, have seriously attempted to put everything they have in service to Christ and the poor. Young people may choose service careers, such as teaching or parenting, rather than lucrative professions. In doing so they put being above having, and God above mammon. While our callings differ, all of us are invited to offer up all that we have.
In his book, “How Much Is Enough?,” Arthur Simon in reflecting on the grace of giving, says, “We must become receivers before we can give, and what we receive far exceeds what we are asked to give.” In 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, Paul commends the extraordinary generosity of the Macedonian Christians toward the impoverished believers in Judea. He praised their giving as an “act of grace.” Grace flows from the heart of God and then from us to others.
The grace of giving takes many different forms, and it is not limited to financial contributions. Time, energy, and ability are often gifts of greater value. They include such things as reading books to children, assisting the homeless, the sick, and the elderly, and helping children discover the joy of helping others. It includes such things as teaching a Sunday School class, leading a small group, cooking in the soup kitchen, volunteering to lead a youth mission trip, and visiting with our shut-ins.
As followers of Jesus, we all face the challenge of knowing “How much is enough?” There are no shortcuts, no quick fixes, and no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to living as a faithful disciple. Decisions about the use of money and the use of our lives are not always clear, but because those decisions make a huge difference to our own wellbeing and that of others, they are of immense importance. It usually involves many small steps rather than great heroic leaps. Because the results are always flawed and our motives inescapably mixed, we live by forgiveness.
The good news is that we can be a generous people! Most of us are able to give in some way and still have more than enough money to enjoy life with full appreciation for the pleasures that God’s good creation (and modern conveniences) afford. If what you feel God is calling you to give seems completely beyond reach, it may be that the management of your time, talents, and treasures is in need of some adjusting. Growth in giving is what is more important to us as faithful stewards. The good news of stewardship is that God is capable of renewing our mind, transforming us to envision life with remarkably different and eminently more satisfying perspectives and priorities.
God does not call us to lives of want.
God calls us to lives of enough.
Enough is not nothing.
Enough has no winners or losers.
No one goes hungry, and no one gets lost.
Enough, with grace, is abundant life.
Associate for Stewardship
*Excerpts taken from How Much Is Enough? Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture
by Arthur Simon.