The Perception of Stewardship PI

ahm-keepin-my-money

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:3-5: From God’s perspective, what are the standards for stewardship are we are to have?

First off, 1 Peter tells us that we are chosen by God and by God alone! The Holy Spirit sets us apart. We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life. And of this, we should know; yet, we need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. 

As we know, stewardship and tithing are hot subjects today and Christians seem to love to debate them. Unfortunately, most seem to have a skewed idea of what these subjects entail, and only impart their ‘assumptions,’ and ‘desires,’ not the facts from God’s Word. I just read through some Christian blogs and Facebook posts about this topic, and what amazed me was how people were arguing back and forth out of total ignorance, from both sides. Some people, saying they were pastors, were getting Greek words totally wrong and passages out of their context. People claiming to be mature Christians were using inappropriate language and tone, putting the other person down and even verbally attacking those who did not share their skewed opinion. Neither group was willing to dig into the text of the Bible to see what it really says; they just wanted to spout off with their preconceived ideas.

As a former academic debater and postgraduate student, I know that it is essential to form an argument on facts and logic, and not emotionalism and presumptions. With Scripture, this is fundamental and essential! Nevertheless, these message boards were all filled with assumptions and emotions, no real facts, no word studies, no thought-through doctrinal arguments. It was just, “what I believe” or “what my church does.”  Oh, how sad this is! The Bible was being used just like a buffet, to pick and choose what would fit their experiences and mindsets, ignoring the rest, and unconcerned to what God’s Word really said in its simple, clear, and concise form. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The key is context–not reading into it what is not there, or taking out what is there.

One clear theme emerged from these message board “discussions.” People did not want to take responsibility for what God’s Word said, or what stewardship really means in applying it to their wallets.

Know this, emotions and personal Will, will block reason and Scripture. Instead of carefully crafted arguments, people misused the Word to force their views so they did not have to give to the church. I was dumbfounded, and thought these must be high school or young college students who never read a Bible, but some of them said they were pastors! I do not know if that is true, due to the immaturity of their language and arguments, but it would seem that the checking of facts and conviction of the truth were definitely absent.

The mature Christian may realize his or her responsibility in stewardship and then struggle in prayer and with family about what to give. And do it chearfully!

He/she will seek God’s Word for how he/she can serve Him and the church. A mature Christian should never rationalize that it is good not to follow his/her call, use his/her gifts, refrain from sharing his/her faith, or not to give. As persons saved by grace, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ has done for us so we naturally desire to serve Him with all of our heart and means. Yes, you are not forced to do anything, because as His elect, you are saved by your faith alone in what Christ has done alone—period! But, as James tells us, what good is it? What good would you be (James 1:22-25; 2:14-19)?

Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)! Make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. (Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character)

 

©  2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

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Biblical Concepts on Generosity PII

Generosity in Practice 

Generosity is the realization we have His living water flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too (John 4; 7:38)!

This is like the Dead Sea in Israel, which is a dead body of water that has little to no life in it. There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous.

Here are positive examples from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

Here are negative examples from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)

Is the Character of Generosity working in you?

Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Generosity from God’s most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit Generosity in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a mindset to know that all I have in life belongs to God, and, since He supplies all I have and need, I can model His grace through being Generous?
  3. What blocks me from being Generous?
  4. How can I make Generosity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?

 A selfish Christian or a self-centered church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you?

The lack of Generosity will reflect a lack of faith and obedience! If you think there are no rivers coming into you, then seek what is blocking them. Is it sin, attitude, fear….?

God blesses those who steadfastly embrace His call, and who stay true to Christ. We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. True Character will be the fruit of our encounter with Christ and the endeavor of how we are with others around us!

 

 

Biblical Concepts on Generosity PI

 

Generosity

What is “Generosity?”

What are the things that cause you to be stingy with what God gives you?

Generosity is actually a ‘Fruit’ of the Holy Spirit that gets a hold of the real believer; thus, this action will inspire one to be more charitable to others. This allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is also the wise use of stewardship and the proper attitude that all possessions belong to God. Since, we are merely the caretakers for His stuff, we can properly manage and re-purpose for Christ’s purpose. 

Key passages: Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7; Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15; 1 John 3:17 

This Fruit encounter will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires.

Basically, God wants us to get rid of Stinginess, and is a person of character who in endowed by the Fruit of the Spirit so we can exhibit and practice Generosity.

What happens when we are not generous? What are the opposites of God’s call?Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and Miserlinessare the fruits of the flesh that cause us to be ‘possessed’ by our possessions, stopping us from being a blessing and of use to God and others. These rotten fruits ‘rot’ because we hoard them and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and ‘living water’ from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

Generosity is an example of our trust and reliance on God. Because He has given so much to us, way beyond what we can comprehend, we can therefore be charitable to others.

Generosity is also an act of worship–to model Christ, and see the big picture that goods and material things are not important, but relationships are. This goes to giving back to God, providing to those who have less, and making sure your church is modeling this character.

One of the things I both love and hate to do is go out to lunch with a bunch of fellow Christians after church or Bible study. I love the fellowship and conversation; but, when it comes to tip time, I, as the pastor usually ends up paying the tip or make up the rest bill. Then, hear complaints from waitresses about how stingy the various church groups are! When will we learn, as a Church, that our actions enable us to point others to the way to the Lord, and give us the ability to repel others from Him!

Let yourself be a rich and growing reservoir, overflowing like a fountain of living water that refreshes and encourages all those around you (Eph. 5:18). This will be your sweetness and virtue to others, which will point them to God and be a welcome mat to the Christian life.