Stewardship Notes for September 2018

     In the past few months, we have focused on being God’s Stewards of His Creation, Money, Stuff, Ourselves and our Time and Talents.  This month we focus on a stewardship topic that may not be as straightforward as those in the last few months:  Stewards of Relationships.  When we think about the full circle of stewardship, we usually focus on what that includes and not usually whoit includes. We all have MANY relationships in our lives: family, congregation, community, and neighbors just to name a few. All of these relationships revolve around people and how we share the good news with them as well as receive His blessings from them.  God uses these people in our lives to teach, challenge, encourage and love us!  Likewise, we need to share everything God has taught us with all those we have relationships with. 
     Jesus lays it all out for us quite clearly in Matthew 22: 37-40 when he is asked by the Pharisee’s what the greatest commandment is.  His response: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”   All the people we come in contact with are our neighbors in Christ; we should always try to love them, just as Christ shares His abundant love with us!
     God commands us to love others but He also gives us the ability to do it!  When we attempt to love others, we can be confident that the skill comes from God.  This Bible passage from 1 John 4:7-12 shows how we can better love others:  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.   This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
     But how do we do this in all of our relationships?  After all, we are human and some relationships are much easier than others.  Here are some ideas on how we can be better stewards in ALL of our relationships, not just the ones that are “easy”:
1)       Pray for God’s help– He created us in His own image and wants us to enjoy His creation together.  Ask God for the strength to accept others as they are.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help us stop judging others.
2)       Make an investment in yourself and others– Carefully consider your current relationships and what you can change in your life to make things better for yourself and others.  It takes ample time and energy to get to know the people in your life, so make a commitment that you will follow through and end up making an impact in their lives.
3)       Use your gifts– God has given us all unique gifts.  Think about how you can use these gifts to be a better steward with those around you.  For example, volunteering is a wonderful way to create new relationships and help out others in need.
4)       Use Christ as an example– We all need to deal with some people that we don’t get along with.  Jesus had to do the same thing, but He treated them ALL with equal love.  Learn to forgive other’s trespasses against you and you will become a better steward in those difficult relationships.
     In the end, relationships are an essential part of human flourishing!  Without strong, durable and substantial relationships, we cannot achieve God’s lofty goals for us.  How will you use the “people skills” that God has given you to share His love with others?  How can this idea change the way you love God, others and yourself?