Money & Stewardship

February 16th, 2009

At Hope Chapel, we’re in the middle of a sermon series on stewardship.  Last week I wrote the discussion notes for the small groups, and led the discussion at my own group. (Here are the notes, which include a link to the SNL skit Don’t Buy Stuff, in the icebreaker section.)

In the discussion, we articulated some things I wanted to pass on:

  1. It’s not about identifying a minimum that you can give back to God, and then keep the rest for your own use.
  2. It’s not about asceticism–never buying nice things.
  3. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29:18)
  4. How often do we really look to the Old Testament for guidance on money?  (Should we be paying more attention to the OT laws on interest, loans, etc?)
  5. The OT points toward an expanded sense of generosity.
  6. “God loves a cheerful giver.”
  7. We should live lifestyles of openness and generosity.
  8. There isn’t a New Testament requirement of a 10% tithe.  (Though it functions as a fair benchmark or starting place.)
  9. We should start with examining our hearts in how we use our money, more than any one particular spending habit.  In what spirit or with what vision are we acting?  (But fruit does tend to show the heart.)
  10. We should view our money as a gift from God, to be used & stewarded.  We are stewards of all our money, not just what we give to our church.

One thing in particular:

We sometimes talk about our offerings as “giving back to God”.  But that can start to sound like we’re keeping the rest for ourselves.  If we want to start thinking of all of our money as God’s money, then I think it would be helpful to talk about it another way.

I want to view my tithe as devoting some of my money to the particular purpose of supporting my congregation.  Hopefully, I will be giving all of my money to God, using it for his purposes—including the money I spend on food, clothes, and entertainment.  This requires living a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit—where everything is part of your walk with God.  Even entertainment, if it is received with thanksgiving, where it gladdens the heart.  A lifestyle of thoughtful consideration and intentional, budgeted spending.  A lifestyle of understanding God’s will—trying to be like Christ.  A lifestyle of enjoying the things God has created.  A lifestyle of generosity.

Man, that’s hard.  But it’s got to be a joyful thing, if we can stop clinging to…well, to other ways of living.  What better life could there be?

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2 Responses to “Money & Stewardship”

  1. Mmm – Well said. Potently reminds me of Deb Dorman’s “Costly Devotion” – I think that’s the name of it.

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