Stewardship Notes for May 2019

This month, we emphasize that we are Stewards of Money and Wealth.   By definition, a steward is someone who manages another person’s property, finances, or other affairs.  Now, you may be thinking that you are barely able to manage your own money and wealth, and much less able to take responsibility for someone else’s finances.   Nevertheless, God has called you to take care of the financial resources that He has entrusted to you. 
So, what are those financial resources that God owns, and for which you are accountable to Him?   Well, they are in your wallet, your bank accounts, and your investments.  Everything that you have comes from God, and belongs to God. (Psalm 24:1)  You are merely the custodian, and you are accountable for how you use His resources.  Everything you have is given to you so that you can be part of God’s mission in the world.  God owns 100% of the money and wealth that you have, but you have to decide the best way to use them.   

It is good news that you are precious to God, and He wants you to take care of yourself and your family responsibly.  But when you are deciding how to spend your money beyond your family’s actual needs, the most important principle is that it should be spent in ways that show love for God and for others.  God cares about how you use all of your money, not just the portion that you give away.

So, how do we decide the amount of our wealth that we give specifically to the Lord’s work?  The amount that we give to the Lord’s work is part of our response to the gospel, and also for the gospel.   We are not giving in order to supply God with something that He lacks.  We give because we need to give, as an expression of our faith through action.  Our giving is motivated by our gratitude to God for what He has done, and it also is motivated by our desire to do the work that He has given us to do.   Sometimes, we may give especially significant amounts sacrificially, as expressions of our love, gratitude, and praise.

Is there a standard amount that should be given?  St. Paul wrote that it is the duty of each believer to financially support the religious community of which he is a part, and he suggested that giving should be proportionate to income and circumstances (2 Corinthians 8:3 & 11).  A good guide for planning one’s financial life is to give 10 percent to God, save 10 percent, and live on the remaining 80 percent.  For those persons who aspire to begin tithing by implementing a first fruits approach, each year adjust the financial behavior by one percent of income until the goal of 10-10-80 is reached. 

There are different types of giving.  Offerings are given on a regular basis by individuals and households in response to God’s blessings, and for doing God’s work.  Special gifts are given on an occasional basis to cover special needs; they are given in addition to, and not instead of, regular offerings.  Tithes are first fruits gifts which return 10 percent (or more) of all that an individual or household has received from God.   A bequest is a gift of money or property that is legally given by someone after their death to someone else.  Individuals and families may want to consider writing wills or creating living trusts which will benefit the Lord’s work, as part of a legacy plan.

Our congregation is conducting a multi-week emphasis on financial stewardship during this month.  Please plan to attend both of our Stewardship Community Connections sessions on May 12 and May 19, to consider the many ways in which we have been blessed by God.   Our process includes both educational and spiritual components and is intended to strengthen discipleship and to inspire generosity.  The faith commitment cards that will be collected on June 2 are regarded as non-binding estimates of future giving and they are not used in the congregation’s budgeting process.   All individuals and households of the congregation are encouraged to reflect on their blessings and to give accordingly. 

Stewardship is a faith-filled way of life.  How are you using God’s financial gifts?   Live generously!