Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stewardship and a Vital Faith

Ask yourself a question: Is my faith vital for me and life-giving to others? I'm willing to bet that the answer to that question to a large extent is tied to our stewardship practices.

I have people who fret about the giving of their lives, their resources and their money to support the ministry of God's kingdom work. Their worry comes out of looking at a tithe (typically 10% of one's "first fruits") and seeing no earthly (or heavenly) way for them to meet that expectation. I understand that. It frankly stopped me from giving for years, or kept me from giving consistently as a regular, spiritual practice that enlivened my faith.

I've learned a lot about giving over the years, and here are three practical things you can do to spur yourself into action, if this is an area of your spiritual life that needs some help.

First, make a decision.

Decide that you are going to give and that giving is going to be a regular spiritual practice for you. Moses said in Deuteronomy 30: "I have put before you the ways of life and the ways of death; choose therefore life." I promise you will only grow more vital in your faith if you decide to be a regular, committed giver.

Second, start with some amount, any amount.

Give five dollars a month. Any and every working person can do that. We spend more on a pair of shoes, or a meal out. The amount is less important than the spiritual practice of giving and giving joyfully, of learning to give and keep your word. I've seen people begin literally right there, who have for years simply trusted God for a small amount and now give in large ways. I'm convinced that God will honor every sincere attempt to genuinely act obediently where our money is concerned. This sincere effort activates the God-given impulses we all have to think more highly of others than ourselves.  This also works with time. Give your time  to one thing in the year. It might be a short Bible study series that lasts for four weeks, one hour in the evening or on a Sunday morning. It might be one work day on a Saturday at the church. It might be one Sunday volunteering in the childrens or youth program. God takes small things and grows them larger.

Third, consider giving an amount that you will trust that God will provide.

Consider giving on a Faith-Promise basis: Promise to give a certain amount that you know you don't have, as you have Faith that God will provide it. Whether with your time or your money (or any other resource), I know of people who have some amazing stories to tell about how God has worked to put just what was needed before them. The key here is that this isn't self-serving; you promise to give in the service of someone else, or in the service of ministry that expands God's kingdom as God supplies.

I hope that helps some of you who are having difficulty committing to give your life, your resources and your money.