Giving and Christian Stewardship
Those of us who have struggled with our weight know well that it is not simply a case of going on a diet for the odd week or two, but of re-educating ourselves in our eating habits that will really transform our situation and bring about a permanent improvement in our health.
A similar programme of re-education needs to be undertaken with regard to Christian Stewardship. Too many still regard it as a means of extricating a parish from its financial problems, as a "crash diet" for a week or two, and not as a way of life in response to God, a steady programme of growth in Christian discipleship.
Christian Stewardship is a response to God
The Christian understanding of Stewardship is derived from our understanding of the nature of the generosity of God.
God the Creator
Because God is the Creator and has given men and women a special place in his purposes on earth and dominion over all other living creatures, men and women are called:
- to worship God and to give thanks for his goodness
- to use the natural world and other living creatures in the service of God and all people and not for self-interest and exploitation.
God the Saviour
Because God has made himself known most fully in Jesus Christ, and has acted uniquely and decisively in him to save the world and to give forgiveness, grace and eternal life, men and women are called:
- to put their trust in God and live in companionship with Jesus Christ
- to follow Jesus in showing love to others; to use their minds, bodies and possessions to glorify God, and to give practical help to people in need.
God the Holy Spirit
Because God has formed the Church, entrusted the Church with the Gospel and given gifts to men and women through the Holy Spirit:
- the Church is called to make Jesus Christ and the Gospel known.
- individual Christians are called to use their gifts in his service.
A response in active giving
To describe our response and love we use the words "Christian Stewardship". We do so because the word "steward" is used in the Bible to express the concept of responsibility for the use of material possessions and spiritual powers.
Christian Stewardship may therefore be defined as the response which we the Church, collectively and individually, are called to make to God for all that he has given us and done for us, above all in Jesus Christ.
Our response in Christian Stewardship is therefore active:
- as we respond to God in praise and thanksgiving
- as we look on the universe as God's creation
- as we treat the earth and its resources as God's provision for the needs of all mankind
- as we seek to consecrate our personal wealth to God
- as we regard our lives, our powers and possessions, our money and material wealth as gifts from God to be enjoyed and used in his service
- as we seek to be "Stewards of the Gospel" and to share in Christ's mission to the world
Unless our money gift has cost us something, it is not really a thanksgiving but more like a tip. And one of the tensions in our discipleship lies in whether we live our life and give to God the odd crumb, or whether we give to God first, and then manage the rest. If the Christian disciple does the first, they will never be satisfied: If they do the second, they will always have enough.
If you would like to make a donation, please download and fill out the Gift Aid Form and drop it into the church.
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