This month, our stewardship campaign is well underway. Pledge Sunday is on the calendar for November 12, and everyone is invited to come and celebrate God graciousness and generosity to us by bringing our gifts back to God. You have probably already received a stewardship letter and pledge card in the mail. In weeks to come, you will learn about our church’s operating expenses, which is incredibly important information for all of us to know.
But I think that many of us forget that stewardship is so much more than keeping the church’s bills paid and our lights on! Our generosity, or lack thereof, has an impact on our spiritual state because it is an opportunity for us to live out our gratitude toward God. And it is a chance for us to grow deeper in our trust in God, as we stretch ourselves to give something more or something new. But just how much giving makes a person a generous giver? What does generosity have to do with our lives of faith? This year, God is reminding us that being stewards of all that God has given us ought to encompass all of who we are and what we do. After all, when God created humankind, they had all of creation placed under their care, to reflect God’s lovingkindness to all the earth. Since this time, humanity has struggled to remember that all that we are and all that we have comes from God in the first place. We are often tempted to believe that we earned our money, and so it is ours. We are often tempted to think that we have honed our talents, and so they belong to us alone. We are often tempted to hold the opinion that our time is scarce and so it must be hoarded. Whenever we operate out of an attitude of self-satisfaction or an attitude of scarcity, we are failing to understand that it is God who gives us the breath in our lungs, the capacity to do our work, and all of our gifts and talents. Yes, God is the source of our lives. God has brought us this far, and so we can trust God to provide for our future. God blesses us with life, love, resources and grace upon grace.
So, how generous is generous? Generosity in giving ought to be an attempt to respond in a manner that is commensurate to God’s overwhelming love, and commensurate with the comfort of being able to trust that God will continue this care all the days of our lives! This life of trust, gratitude and generosity is a way of living as a follower of Jesus, the one who gave attention to those who were sick and suffering, the lonely, and those in need of spiritual companionship, whose very life was poured out in sacrifice for our sake and for that of the whole world. How can we not respond by giving of ourselves, our time and attention, our talents and resources? To grow in generosity is to see ourselves as a reflection of Christ, called to share Christ’s presence with others, as we surely are!
As we become more mindful of the many ways we are blessed with life, love, resources and more, we also face the need to be more generous. Generosity begins with a desire that grows into an act: a desire to give in response to what we have been given; an act of giving that expresses our gratitude and trust. Pastor Leisa Anslinger offers these practical ideas for ways to grow in generosity:
· Give first to God: Give God the first fruits of your time in prayer and by making and fulfilling a commitment to spend your time wisely and willingly with your family, by fulfilling your work responsibilities, and by serving in your church and community.
· Give God the first fruits of your financial resources by making and fulfilling a pledge of financial stewardship to Delafield Presbyterian Church as well as other organizations.
· Search your heart about this: What material resources do you have that another may need? What financial resources can you share, even beyond what may seem comfortable?
· Make a commitment to stretch a bit. If you truly do not have financial resources to share, find a way to be generous with your time; you will likely find that you don’t miss that money or time as much as you might expect, and that giving in such a way is satisfying.
· Give sacrificially: The mission we share in Jesus’ name is that of bringing the Good News to the world. This Good News is the message of undying, sacrificial love. We are created in God’s image, meant to be a reflection of Jesus who is perfect, generous self-giving.
Friends, like our Lord Jesus, we must open our hearts to the vision that God has for this world, one in which human suffering, whether physical, spiritual, emotional or material is erased from the earth, one in which the poor are cared for, the hungry are fed and the needy are clothed. We know that such needs will be met through the sacrificial generosity of good and faithful stewards. And so, let us all consider ways we can be faithful stewards in the year to come, and together work for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
Yours in Christ,