Spirituality Pages

Many of us probably think that church Stewardship only means financial support of the church. This is unfortunate, because that is only one aspect of God's call to us to be faithful stewards. When God created us to be stewards over creation, i.e. caretakers of all that God had created, surely more was intended than this.

Most Christians would say that the essence of Christianity is summed up in the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor (Mt 22:36-40; Mk 12:28-34; Lk 10:26-28). Both of these commandments are, in essence calls to Stewardship. Love of God and love of neighbor requires loving all creation, including other people, i.e. your neighbors.

How can you say you love creation unless you are concerned for its welfare? Similarly, how can you say you love your neighbor if you are unconcerned about the welfare of other people? Being concerned about the welfare of creation (i.e. plants, animals, rivers, trees, air, ...) and the welfare of other people requires active Stewardship. In order to call ourselves Christians, therefore, we must embrace Stewardship. It is the only way we can remain faithful to our calling.

Active Stewardship has many facets, but only three fundamental components, the three Ts: time, talent and treasure. We must integrate all three components into our actions to be effective. Take away just one component, and we become as useless as a three-legged stool which has one leg broken.

Each of us has our individual set of gifts (talents), and it is appropriate for us to use these gifts (i.e. contribute our time) where they are of greatest service. Stewardship, or taking care of creation, is after all, a form of service. Within the family of believers, whatever we do can and should become an act of Stewardship. For some, it will be involvement in mission projects abroad; for others, missions at home. Some choose to nurture the continuity of believers through Christian education. Some lift people's spirits and facilitate their connection with our Creator through music and prayer. Even the simple act of gathering with other believers for social activities, a form of support for one's community, is an act of Stewardship. Thus, Stewardship is both local and global outreach; stewardship is education and worship; stewardship is visiting, caring and sharing. Whatever we do in the church should be undertaken intentionally as an act of Stewardship.

While good Stewardship necessarily involves our liberal offerings of time and talent, it must also necessarily involve our liberal financial support for the institution of the church and its missions. No one can be a faithful steward in a vacuum. Without the church (i.e. the fellowship of believers) to provide spiritual support for our efforts and to multiply our individual contributions to a greater whole, all our individual efforts become vain. The church cannot be sustained by only our time and talents, our treasures are also required. Think once more about the utility of a three-legged stool with only two good legs. Stewardship lacking in one of the three primary ingredients is similarly useless. Every one of us must necessarily participate in all three facets of good Stewardship. Doing so is, after all, the great commandment from God as passed to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

14 October 2004

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