While churches have been enjoying in-person worship and activities again after the easing of the pandemic, many are not back to pre-pandemic attendance numbers. And according to one pastor I recently visited, that’s a problem.
Giving has remained steady, she said, but with fewer people returning to church, there are fewer people to serve — as teachers, greeters and a host of other volunteers.
The stewardship of money has never been a popular teaching of the Bible. But the stewardship of life is not limited to financial resources. It includes so much more.
We can’t save time. Once it passes, it’s gone forever. But we can learn to be better stewards or our time. And as Paul said in Ephesians 5:15, we must use it wisely: “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
God gives us all our time, and we must be accountable to him for every bit of it.
Besides working, we spend time on personal care and social activities — sleeping, household chores, shopping, leisure and sports, social media, meals with family and friends, exercise.
But how much time do we give to God? What if we tithed our time? Technically, that would amount to 16.8 hours each week. If we attended every service our church provides, plus several hours of volunteer work and an hour each day in prayer and devotion, it would likely not equal a tithe.
Many of us give God just a fraction of our time, but it’s a gift to us from him, and we must use it wisely.
We are also stewards of our talents or gifts, which go hand-in-hand with how we spend our time.
“Becoming a Christian means committing our whole lives to God. If we want to be identified as good and faithful stewards … we need to regularly and generously sacrifice what we have been entrusted in hopes of bringing heaven to those who are here on Earth.” — Rev. Sandra Santiago.
To be a good steward, we must use what God has given us. And we must use it or lose it. Some things are hard to forget, such as how to ride a bicycle. Others are not — languages not spoken every day, how to play a musical instrument, things studied in school but not put into practice.
There is no such thing as a “small” gift or unimportant talent. All are from God and should be used for his glory and to bring others closer to him.
And then there is stewardship of possessions.
Not many of us are like Bill Gates and can say: “I am independently wealthy. I have enough money to last me the rest of my life.” Instead, we say: “I am independently wealthy. I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, provided I die tomorrow.”
When thinking about stewardship of possessions, the tithe, or 10%, is often seen as the goal for giving to God. In the Old Testament, a 1oth was just the starting point — they gave much more than that.
In Luke 11:42, the Pharisees say we should tithe from everything, even our garden spices. In response, Jesus said: “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
Some believe that once the tithe is given, it does not matter what is done with the rest of our possessions. But the Christian view is that all we have belongs to God and is on loan to us from him. We are responsible to him for 100% of what he gives. That means we should not purchase what God does not want us to have. We should take care to spend and save wisely. We must begin giving what we are called to give. And after we have given the tithe, all other gifts become an offering.
There is no hard and fast rule guiding how much we give and then we are done. Giving should be out of love for God and what he has done for us. If the motive to give is to get more, then we have missed the point.
Becoming a Christian means committing our whole lives to God. If we want to be identified as good and faithful stewards and someday hear those wonderful words, “well done,” we must routinely examine ourselves and ensure our lives are on the right course. We need to regularly and generously sacrifice what we have been entrusted in hopes of bringing heaven to those who are here on Earth.
Living the life of a good and faithful steward is a tremendous challenge. Are you up for it?