Caring for the Orchard

“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
(1 Peter 4:10)

Many of our church members have been participating in a study called, “Understanding Spiritual Gifts.”  The purpose of this study is to help people identify the particular gifts that God has given them and what God might have planned for each person to use those gifts.  The natural way for us to look at our material possessions, our lives, and our gifts is to think that these things belong to us.  The biblical truth, however, stands in stark contrast with this human notion.  The fact is that God owns everything – all that we are and all that we have.  God created everything and retains ownership of everything; we are simply allowed to borrow these gifts for the short time we live on earth. We are the managers or stewards of these gifts; this includes our money, material properties, family, time, and even our own bodies.

Ultimately, we are accountable to God for how we manage these resources.  God has certain expectations of us as faithful stewards and God will ask us to give an accounting of how we managed what we were given to care for.

Understanding what our particular gifts are and then realizing how to be good stewards of everything we’ve been given is vital to a healthy relationship with God and to the spread of the gospel in the world in which we live.  Effective Christians are constantly moving toward spiritual maturity.  Anything we can do to encourage our spiritual growth is beneficial to this maturing process.  That is why I believe this study is so important to our church.  We cannot grow in our Christian walk unless we know where we are on the journey and where we need to be.

Growing into faithful stewardship is challenging for most people.  We have heard countless sermons about tithing and we have been confronted by the cultural realities of economic crisis, two-income families, and the rising cost of living.  Statistics tell us that the average Christian adult in America gives less than 2% of their income to the church; this is a far-cry from the biblical mandate of 10%.  The issue seems to be that we are all struggling to feed our families, pay the rent, and have money left over for the things we want out of life.  These struggles often leave us thinking that God will understand our dilemma and give us a pass on fulfilling his commandment.  There is also the issue that many people under a certain age have never been taught the concept of tithing because “the church” stopped talking about it a long time ago in an effort to avoid offending people.  The truth is that speaking the command to tithe is a prophetic voice that must be heard.

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  As Christians, we must evaluate every decision we make based on that mission.  We must have the courage to ask ourselves: How will this choice, this purchase, or this gift make a difference in the mission to bring people to Jesus?

Let me take this out of the realm of money for a minute to give you an example of how God sees our world.  There are 24 hours in every day.  A tithe would equal 2.4 hours spent in prayer or Bible study.  Time is one of our most precious, yet wasted resources.  Do you remember what you did yesterday between 10:00 and 12:00?  Whatever your answer is, those events are part of your past and cannot be lived again.  Were they tithed or wasted?

God blesses us so that we will bless others,
Pastor Don