I have been meeting with a small group of men in my community for the last 8-9 weeks to encourage one another in our spiritual lives. We have been studying the 30 Core Competencies of our church: 10 Beliefs, 10 Virtues and 10 Practices. For a while, I've decided to add some thoughts about each Competency to my blog so that readers can follow our discussions.
This week, we looked at the Core Belief of "Stewardship" which simply affirms: "I believe that everything I am or own belongs to God." We studied 1 Timothy 6:17-19 where the unmistakable theme of Paul's charge was "riches." First, he cautions Timothy not to put his hope in material riches but to put his hope in spiritual riches found in God. If Timothy pursues rich deeds instead of dollars, he will eventually discover a treasure in heaven. This passage echoes Jesus' words in Matthew 6:19-21:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
The main point of both texts is that the truly rich life is determined, not by what we gain, but by what we give. In this way, it really is "more blessed to give than to receive" [Acts 20:35]. God supplies us with material riches to bless others in need. Through acts of generosity and grace, we enjoy spiritual richness which lay an eternal foundation and leads to true life.
In his excellent book, What's So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey reflects on "the atrocious mathematics of the Gospel." Jesus suggested that the first should come last, the least would become greatest, and leaders are servants. Paul noted that "dying is gain." The constant theme is that God's people are to become the "biggest losers." Addition by subtraction. Which means that stewardship is not about me simply managing my stuff. Rather, stewardship is me recognizing that my stuff is God's stuff, given on loan, to give away to others. As I spend myself to meet the needs in my community, I live. And then I realize how very rich I truly am.