stewardship – “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something, especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (MerriamWebster.com)
Background: My husband and I grew up from infancy in church. Not just in church on Sunday morning, but at least four times a week and often as many as six or seven. There was Sunday school, worship, Discipleship Training, choir, mid-week service, visitation, revivals, conferences, January bible study, youth rallies, and that’s just the ones I can recall in the time it took to type that sentence. Because of our involvement we grew up wanting to obey God, read our Bible, pray, and give out tithe.
When we were children tithing meant giving the dime our mamas gave us before church to “put in the offering.” As we grew into the preteen years we were encouraged to give ten percent of our baby-sitting or grass-cutting earnings, which we did. When we got our first “real” jobs in high school we felt proud to be able to contribute a tithe that we knew was enough dollars to actually help our church in some way.
All that history led us to where we were when we got married and where we are today.
As a young married couple with a few semesters to go in college there was no money to tithe. We were living off student loans. Upon graduation and getting engineering and teaching jobs we jumped right back in to what we knew to be the best way to live – we tithed. Not only that, we had an image of God in our minds from all the Biblical teaching we had received. It was the idea of stewardship: God owned all that was in the world and was the provider of all we had and all we needed. Therefore, we were to honor Him with all our possessions.
I realize that may sound strange to people not raised in the church, but it was a reality as normal as breathing for us. It is a principle woven throughout Scripture, and a worthy one to base the way you live on it.
We always wrote the tithe check first, even when we were broke. We may have eaten home-canned green beans and thirty-three-cents-a-box Mac and Cheese a lot, but we never failed to give to Our Creator, Father God. There were times we wished for all those dream items – house, a new car, vacations – but that did not tempt us enough not to give to God. The first real temptation for me NOT to give God control of all our money and possessions was over a vehicle.
We had been married about ten years and had three kids. Because of a job promotion, we were moving from from one town to another a couple of hours away. The moving van had been loaded and pulled out. With much excitement and weariness, we cleaned quickly and rustled the kids into the car headed for the New House. My husband drove his truck, and I drove our Suburban with the kids. Both vehicles were loaded down with suitcases, sentimental treasures, toys, and last minute items. Less than 10 miles down the road the Suburban started giving me problems; it wouldn’t shift into gear and would only go slowly. I flashed my lights at my husband’s truck up ahead. (Pre-cell phone times, required tricks and codes when you traveled!) Both vehicles limped slowly to a rest area a few miles down the road where my mechanic-of-a-husband checked out the vehicle and declared that was as far as it would be going that night.
This was a crisis of belief moment for me. Sure all my possessions belonged to God. Sure I trusted Him. Didn’t I? Suddenly I realized how easy it is to say we believe something and how hard it can be to live it out. Would God protect our family vehicle? HIS vehicle? Would God keep my treasures (picture albums, precious breakables that had been gifts down through the years, those irreplaceable things)? I was at the point of tears, but not wanting to upset the kids what does a mom do? You treat it like a big adventure!
“Alright kiddos! Grab what you have to have for tonight and we’re gonna pile in Daddy’s truck to go to our New House!”
And so we did.
We arrived safely, burst out of the truck where we had been squished for over on hour’s ride, and entered our New (empty) House with excitement. We all slept on the floor in Mommy & Daddy’s room that first night. As everyone else dozed, my tears came, along with whispered pleas of “Please take care of our stuff, Lord. It’s yours, I know, but it’s precious to me.”
And now for the rest of the story…
Next morning, we awoke to movers at the door. The day sped by and ended with us surrounded by boxes and trying to find the sheets. At a call from my husband a towing company had retrieved our vehicle – it was still there and our possessions were still intact – and it sat safely in the driveway, unloaded and ready to be taken to the shop the next morning. All was well. God had taken care of all that He had loaned me here on this earth, and my faith and willingness to hold my possessions with open hands had been strengthened.
The moral of the story…
God is trustworthy. He will take care of you – and your stuff. You will often hit a crisis of belief when you must choose to live out your faith in spite of fear or worry or doubt. Will you steward your life and your possessions well? You must decide. It’s often scary but it’s always worth it. Even if God allows something to be taken away. (We’ve had some of those times too.) But God will always work things out for your good and prove Himself faithful to you. He loves you. You are His precious treasure.
You have been given precious treasures – Steward Well!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10