I almost titled this a ‘random’ thought on stewardship. But it really isn’t random. I’m working on my master’s thesis on stewardship so stewardship is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, not to mention researching and reading. Yes, some of us do read books on this stuff! Which is pretty ironic when you consider that one of the reasons I left the church in my 20’s was over stewardship. That is the subject for another blogpost but soffice to say God does indeed have a sense of humor. The fact that I’m a pastor would indicate that but I digress.
Anyways, this week’s thoughts on stewardship are not entirely random though the timing is, of course. It just came to me so I put fingers to keyboard.
A few weeks back I mentioned that stewardship isn’t about money, even though it is almost a universal result that the first thing people think of when discussing stewardship is money. Stewardship is more accurately the care and concern of all of God’s gifts. One of which, of course, is money. So, let’s talk about that for a minute.
Point 1 – It is commonly held that according to the Bible the proper amount we are to give back to God is 10% of our income. Commonly known as a tithe.
Point 2 – It is commonly held that money is “the root of all evil”
Neither are entirely correct.
In the first place, the 10% number in the Bible is one tithe commanded. There are others that some say are additive. Total number we’re supposed to cough up for God? Biblically speaking, it is about 23%. Apparently the 10% number, while Biblical in and of itself perhaps, doesn’t tell the whole story.
And it is in 1 Timothy 6 that we learn “The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” (emphasis added). This is most certainly true. Money is neutral in spite of Shakespeare calling it ‘filthy’. Protecting ourselves from loving our money is the basis for why financial generosity is important. If we’re not willing to part with our money in worthy ways then money is becoming, or has become, an idol for us. And that idol thing? It rarely works out well.
What if we approached stewardship with an emphasis on faithfulness and consistency rather than numbers and rationales or even theology that aren’t correct? I think God is calling us much more to be faithful and consistent than guilting us into tithing. What do faithful and consistent mean?
Faithful is taking generosity seriously. To be honest, I’m not particularly concerned what the amount anyone gives (for the record, my wife and I tithe – off gross). But I am concerned that folks take generosity seriously. If we have a six figure income, and some of you do, then $10 in the offering plate (and a quarter for Sunday school) is not very faithful. What is the right amount? For that you need to talk to God. Ask God for guidance about generous giving (if you ask me about it, I’ll refer you to God. Really.) . Some people are in a situation of giving $1 per week. Others may be $1000. The amount in and of itself isn’t important. The faithfulness in being generous is important. Maybe the number isn’t 10% and maybe the number is OVER 10%. Quit worrying about tithing and feeling guilty about not tithing (if you aren’t). Figure it out with God and move on.
Related to faithfulness is consistency. If you give on a random basis it is neither consistent nor faithful. Figure out what the amount is (see above) and then be consistent about giving it. Just as the amount isn’t the key factor, the when isn’t either. It doesn’t matter if it is weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or whatever. It just doesn’t. It is the consistency that matters.
Faithfulness and consistency matter not because your dollars are needed to pay the light bill, or worse yet because the pastor wants to pay his, but because it protects your heart against making your money your idol. There is just something to be said for not having the money albatross around your neck.
It’s time for a new outlook on stewardship, don’t you think?