Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).
“Stewardship,” the overarching theme for our Synod for the years 2021 and 2022 is a tough thing for us Christians to grow into. Since the fall of man, it does not come naturally but needs to be taught and practised in faith. It begins and ends with God’s ownership of all – so eloquently expressed by king David in Psalm 24:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. (v.1).
The earth as God created it was indeed wonderful. God provided. It was “harvest season all the time,” depicted by the “receptive” (or open) hand of Adam and Eve who joyfully received from God what he so richly and abundantly provided. It all changed and went terribly wrong when the devil tempted Adam and Eve to “take” from the forbidden tree of life. The receptive hand was exchanged for the hand of “ownership” leading to the declaration “It is mine!” With it the troubles of our world started. Instead of seeing everything as God’s gracious gift to me, I declare: “The possessions I enjoy are ‘my’ possessions, the talents that I have are ‘my’ talents, to be used first and foremost to secure ‘my’ life.” Being the owner is stressful, epitomised by the endless worries that characterise life. God being dethroned, we are anxious about an uncertain future and become hoarders. Bigger barns are built, and more possessions are stored.
The Apostle Paul declares: In Christ, we are a “new creation”,(2 Cor.5:17). God bought us back with his precious blood and innocent suffering and death. He freed us from the fallacy of ownership and made us both grateful receptors and stewards of God’s grace again. Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father … give us today our daily bread” (Mt.6:11), and he does. He pointed us to the birds in the air and said: “They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they are?” (Mt.6:26). We are of course
Being a Christian means: I acknowledge God’s ownership of all. Everything I am and everything I have is God’s gift to me. But I am not the owner. I am God’s steward and through me, he wants to bless others and build his kingdom. This knowledge sets free. It works generosity and committed service. As redeemed children of God, he has saved us from the burden of ownership and declared us to be both recipients and stewards of God’s grace who gratefully serve others and joyfully give of the many blessings we have received.
Indeed, stewardship starts and ends with God’s ownership of all. YOU ARE HIS and through you, he wants to serve others.