Stewardship of Treasure

November 17, 2007 Matthew 6:21

 

Today’s Lesson

Guiding Scripture Theme:Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21).

Today’s key emphasis:God gives each person everything he owns. It is required that each person be faithful with what God entrusts to us. Many are faithful with their money (many are not) but what about all the other “treasure” that God gives you.

Today we will see that the Israelites gave back to God far more than just tithes. Next we examine the Good Samaritan. We will see the model the Good Samaritan set for us as a faithful steward with all his possessions.

The key issue is to help each of your students examine whether they are faithful to God with their entrusted treasure.

Mention stewardship and most people immediately think about money. Mention stewardship and a lot of people moan inwardly and brace themselves for another fund raising campaign, maybe even breathing a prayer of gratitude, “Thank God we only do stewardship once a year.” Is stewardship only about money? Is a stewardship emphasis really a fund raising campaign that comes once a year? No and no.

  • Stewardship is at least about money, but it is about much more than handing over dollars and cents to support the budget of the church.
  • Over the last few weeks the concept of stewardship has been expanded through a series of lessons in our ABF.
  • In addition to topic about “treasure”, healthy stewardship also is about the way we spend our time and talents.
  • Stewardship is much more than what we have emphasized.

An excellent definition of stewardship was written by James Hudnut-Beumler:

More precisely, stewardship is about what we do with all our resources.

Stewardship is about more than money.

Taking cues from some advice Moses gave to the Israelites as the prepared to enter Canaan, and some insight Jesus offered through the parable of the Good Samaritan, this week’s lesson focuses on the stewardship of all our treasure.

 
   

The Old Testament Pattern

Deuteronomy 12:10-11 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord.

  • In the midst of the story Moses tells the Israelites, the story about their past and soon-to-be-realized future, he frames the daily life of the people as a continuing act of worship.

Giving as an Act of Worship.

  • Moses challenges the Israelites to come to the place of worship with offerings, sacrifices, tithes, and gifts and choice possessions (v. 11).

Deuteronomy 12:11 Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord.

  • In the life of ancient Israel these terms, “offerings, sacrifices, tithes, and gifts and choice possessions”were not different ways to talk about one thing.
  • Each term had a specific purpose that addressed a specific aspect of worship.
  • As the verse suggests, offerings usually took the form of a sacrifice.
  • To commemorate a particular event, such as the birth of a child, a family would make a sacrifice.
  • Likewise, to underscore one’s need for forgiveness, a sacrifice would be made at a certain place and time.
  • Worship in Israel included more than sacrifices, however.
  • The tithe was, perhaps, the most frequent example of worshipful giving in Israel.
  • The basic meaning of “tithe” is “a tenth,” as in a tenth of what was harvested.
  • Soon in development of the worship of Israel, and later in the development of Christianity, the tithe was expanded to include one tenth of all that was earned
  • In addition to giving offerings (sacrifices) and tithes, Moses encouraged the people to worship though the giving of special gifts & choice possessions.

The idea of the tithe, too, included the commitment to become a participant in the life and work of the gathered community.

Summary:

  • Let us summarize the lessons we might learn from hearing a portion of Moses’ speech to the Israelites on the eve of their return to Canaan, the land that God had promised them four hundred or more years earlier when he made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah.
  • Life itself is a gift from God.
  • The Israelites gave much back to the Lord in addition to a tithe
  • We never can and never should attempt to repay God for the blessings that come our way, but we can gather for worship and rejoice together as we are surrounded by blessings.
  • By understanding giving as acts of worship we, too, can become givers. We can give from the bounty of our blessings to commemorate what God has done and is doing with us.
  • We can become regular givers, tithers, as we seize the opportunity to undergird the day-to-day life of our community.
  • And we can become exuberant–even extravagant–givers of gifts of all of our treasure.

Stewardship: Using our Treasureto Meet Needs(Luke 10:25-37)

  • Only Luke includes the Parable of the Good Samaritan as he tells the Jesus story.
  • The setting of the parable is important: (Luke 10:25-29)
  • A specialist in understanding and teaching the importance of what Scripture demands (that is what “lawyer” meant for first-century Jews) pressed Jesus on the issue of what “neighbor” meant. (Luke 10:29)
  • For most first-century Jews, and for most twenty-first century Christians, a neighbor is someone who looks and acts just like me.
  • Jesus challenged the lawyer and turned his world upside down.
  • Through the well-known parable Jesus suggested that the more important question is
           “to whom can I be a neighbor.”
  • The parable also can turn our world upside down, if we read it and listen for a lesson of stewardship.
  • Read the Parable  (Luke 10:30 – 37)
  • Think about the parable.
  • What can you say about the Samaritan?
  • He is a man of means.
  • He has transportation, a donkey.
  • He has luxuries, wine and oil.
  • He has disposable resources, coins in his purse.
  • If we could transfer him to our world and our time what would he look and act like?
  • He would look like most of us, at least in terms of economics.
  • We would call him a middle-class or upper-middle class citizen.
  • At least we must say of the Samaritan that he is a good steward.
  • He has done well with his resources.
  • He apparently does not see his money, his oil and wine, and his donkey as personal possessions.
  • Instead his resources are opportunities for him to meet the needs of a man in need.
  • The blessings of his successful life are now disposable resources to be shared with someone in need.

He is a good steward.

Points for Personal Reflection

What we can Learn from the Good Samaritan

  1. The Good Samarian was SpiritLed
  2. Although the parable does not say so explicitly, the context of the Gospel of Luke allows us to see that the Samaritan has been motivated by the Holy Spirit to share what he has once he sees a genuine need.
  3. Throughout the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts (which Luke also wrote) the Holy Spirit is the primary motivation for those who act in response to God’s presence.
  4. For example: the father of John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, all of these are described as responding to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Even in the context of the parable we can ascribe to the Samaritan the moving of the Holy Spirit.
  6. At very least the Samaritan in the parable does not “neglect justice and the love of God” (see Luke 11:42, to see the chiding words of Jesus directed toward some Pharisees).
  7. The Good Samarian was a GoodModel
  8. The Samaritan is a good model for contemporary Christians eager to broaden their understanding of healthy stewardship.
  9. He considers his resources as a trust fund waiting to be tapped when needs arise.
  10. Everything he has, his donkey, his wine and oil, and his money he quickly gives in the service of mercy.
  11. Few of us at the Faith Baptist will have such dramatic opportunities to meet the needs of others.
  12. All of us at the Faith Baptist Church, however, have regular opportunities to help meet the needs of others in more subtle ways.
  13. Most of us have used our resources of donkeys, wine and oil (use your imagination!) to meet needs in our community, including our church, our city, and our world.

In the end healthy stewardship also includes opening up our purse and giving of our money
as a way to empower our church to meet more needs than any one of us can imagine.

How Shall We Respond?

  • Take time as a family (couple) to think through your stewardship plan for the treasure God has entrusted to you.
  • Our broad understanding of stewardship often obscures the heart of the opportunity before us.
  • We think about how we spend our time and how we invest our talents, perhaps to the neglect of what we do with our money.
  • One thing, however, is inescapable: healthy stewardship is at least about money and our treasure. In our day money is very important to us and to our society.
  • Money is our most obvious “treasure.”
  • What we do with our money reveals where our heart leads us.
  • Our series theme is hard to avoid: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
  • Near the end of the first letter to the Corinthians that we have in our New Testament Paul gives some good advice to some friends who were struggling with issues of stewardship.
  • The Corinthians asked Paul what he thought about “the collection for the saints” (see 1 Corinthians 16:1-4), a reference to a relief offering for the Church in Jerusalem. Paul’s advice is simple and to the point:
  • Set aside a time to give; Sunday is a good day!
  • Establish a plan of savings that will allow you to give from what you have.
  • Focus on the purpose of your giving, remembering the needs of the Jerusalem church.
  • The best place to give your offerings, tithes, and gifts is where the church gathers for worship.
  • Recognizing that stewardship is a form of worship reminds us of the blessings we have received from God.
  • Recognizing that stewardship is a form of worship reminds us that our willingness to be givers extends the blessings of God to others. Confessing that healthy stewardship is at least about money prepares us to see our giving as an act of worship, too.
  • With gratitude from what God has done for us.
  • With hope for what God can do through us. And with generosity as we open our purses to take the opportunity to share with others what we have received from God.