That Stewardship Season

We got a gentle reminder that the fall stewardship campaign is underway from the pulpit, and our “commitment card” already arrived in the mail. This year there are some collateral materials ‘Stories to Tell & Gifts to Share’ and this week’s theme is “Graceful Living”, and asks “Do I acquire, regard, manage and spend my money in ways that reflect trust in God’s grace?”

The worksheet asks that each question is considered separately – Acquire doesn’t seem to cause any heartburn, I suppose I am not at the highest end of the humanitarian scale (doctor, pastor, teacher) but not at the lowest either (pimp, dictator, hired killer).

Regard can be a struggle – to constantly remind myself that everything I have is given by God’s grace, each breath, each sunrise, each day of work, each person I encounter, each task, each reward.

Likewise Manage can be a challenge, be responsible with money so that we do not burden others, to provide for ourselves and the church, our neighbors and those in need. Things like staying within a budget, paying off debts, saving for retirement and avoiding unnecessary expenses are axiomatic.

Spend is where the rubber hits the road. For after the reasonably righteous acquisition, the mindful regard of and careful management of the money entrusted to us, it would seem natural that the last step, what to spend it on, would logically be in accord with trust in God’s grace ~ except it isn’t.

Material temptations require no explanation. But there are other, more complex and alluring occasions of sin, that on the surface appear like good and generous uses of available cash, but when the shiny skin is pierced the underlying motive is less than admirable. Money can be used to do for someone what they should do for themselves, crippling their independence and creating an imbalance in relationships. It can be used to purchase influence and control, at the expense of respect and integrity.

I am going to try to blog about these questions as much as possible during this stewardship season, and would welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Of course we will keep the discourse civil, but that doesn’t mean don’t express your thoughts and feelings.

Thanks!

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