I once thought that stewardship meant what I did with my money – and being a good steward meant that I gave 10% to God, and that 10% was my “tithes & offerings.” Of course, you could argue whether that was 10% of gross-income or 10% of take-home income – but by giving 10% it meant I was being faithful to God.
And then as I grew older, I began to understand that stewardship means how I handle the resources I have been entrusted with – all the resources; not just money but material possessions, and spiritual gifts and talents, and character and relationships, and creation and… my life. And I learned from Jesus that all that we have been entrusted with is on loan to us from God. Given to us not for ourselves, but to serve the healing of God’s world.
The author of the book of Romans tells us:
With God helping you – Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1, The Message)
That means, we take each moment of our living – every action and every thought – and seek to offer it to God. We do this by choosing to focus on the heart-transformation God offers rather than on the external forces of society. The pressures for cultural conformity, to condition our minds and feet to move to the drumbeat of the status quo are immense. Yet, as followers of Jesus, our call is to ignore the insistence to wear the “right” clothes, to be seen with the “right” people, to seek bigger, better, and newer possessions. We are called to ignore these things in favor of God’s call to build relationships with others, to hear God’s call that every person was created in the image of God, to seek through prayer and study ways that strengthen our connectedness to one another while celebrating our uniqueness, instead of demanding sameness and conformity.
I have come to understand that in every moment I have the opportunity to choose to live grace as best as I am able to do that day – to offer the very acts of my living. Sometimes these choices require me to take a public stand and name injustice. But most of the time, it is simply the intentional choice to be kind, to offer a smile or a gentle word or a listening ear.
God’s call to stewardship is not something we do once a year when we make our financial pledge to the church. No, stewardship is the very day-to-dayness of our lives when our lives are lived-out in response to God’s call.