Word for the day by Christian Education Forum


Christian Stewardship - Tithe offering
St. Luke 19:11-26
Separating tithes and offering them to God was one of the responsibilities of the covenant life of Israel. The Levites, the strangers, the poor, and the widows shall rejoice in its sharing. The Christian church also acknowledges and encourages tithing as a symbol of gratitude, knowing that all that is received is a gift from God. Believers have the responsibility with stewardship to the resources given to them. In the Bible, the word steward means a person who oversees the master's food, finances, slaves, children, livestock, and agriculture. He must have the willingness to give time, skills, and life for his master.

This parable speaks of the nature of the kingdom of God and the coming of the Lord and His judgement .
The stewardship is an important teaching of Jesus. Responsibility, transparency and accountability of God-given resources are very important in stewardship. He calls us to contend with the possibilities God has given to us and not to bury them underground. He who uses His talents is called a 'good and faithful servant.' Stewardship should be evident in all the interventions of daily life. In particular, it should manifest itself in personal life, in family relationships, in fulfilling responsibilities in the church and community.

Jesus' parable reminds us to use God-given resources responsibly. The truth is that we are accountable for all the talents he has given to us. One should not bury talents based on one's own wisdom.
1. *We must know of the giver of the resources*
The master gives each servant ten pounds. He asks them to use it efficiently as he goes. He gave it to His servants, but it is still His. Ron Blue illustrates this important idea in his excellent book, 'Master Your Money'. "God owns it all…God has the right to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants it. It is all His, because an owner has rights; I, as a steward, have only responsibilities. I may receive some benefits while maintaining my responsibilities, but the owner retains ownership…Every single possession that I have, comes from someone else—God. I literally possess much but own nothing. God benefits me by sharing His property with me. I have a responsibility to Him to use it in a way that blesses and glorifies Him."

Deut. 8:18 tells us to remember God, the source of wealth.
"But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today." It does not end with wealth. This applies to everything else in our lives. “It applies to “our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s Church, our advantages as possessors of the Word of God” (J.C. Ryle). This is radical. We own nothing. We only manage it on behalf of God. When we realize it belongs to Him, it completely changes our attitude towards our entire life.

2. *We must know the possibility of the resources*
Ten talents is not a big deal to invest. Still, the slaves were expected to do something. Spurgeon comments like this about this passage: “Not much,” you will say. No, he did not intend it to be much. They were not capable of managing very much. If he found them faithful in “a very little” he could then raise them to a higher responsibility. I do not read that any one of them complained of the smallness of his capital, or wished to have it doubled. Brothers, we need not ask for more talents, we have quite as many as we shall be able to answer for…You say, “It is not much.” The Master did not say it was much, on the contrary, he called it “very little”; but have you used that very little? This should go home to your consciences. You have been treated as confidential servants, and yet you are not true to your Lord. How is this?

For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. Let’s never complain that God hasn’t given us much, or think we’re off the hook because we only have a little. We responsible to use whatever he’s given you, no matter how little it is. The stakes are high, even for the little amount He’s given you. He gave them the freedom to use the silver. There is only one simple demand: use it . Do we realize that God has given us freedom along with possibilities?
John MacArthur says in his book 'Found: God’s Will', "You can know what God’s will is for your life with absolute clarity." He expects us to use all that He has given us wisely and to invest faithfully.

A sense of responsibility for the talents received led the first two servants to see its potential. So it led them to multiply what was received. We have two visions. One is obvious to see. Other is to see what is hidden. Success is about finding and taking advantage of hidden possibilities without waiting for possibilities to come our way.

3. We must have right attitude to the giver of the resources and to the responsible management of it. Every one of us is in one of the three categories today. Jesus says about each of them. 
One: Rebellious — “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’” (19:14) This is the category of outright rejection of the master and the results are deadly. When the king returns (v 27) look what happens. “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me”.
God will judge those who rebel against Him and refuse the grace that is offered by Him.
Two: Faithful — In verse 16, one servant reports that his silver has made ten times more. The nobleman says, “Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities” (19:17) The nobleman’s response comes in three ways: commendation (“Well done, good servant!”), reason (“Because you have been faithful in very little”), and promotion (“you will have authority over ten cities”). This is repeated with a second servant. He comes and reports that he’s made five more. He’s put in charge of five cities. When Jesus returns, he will judge our faithfulness. Those who are found faithful will be rewarded generously. If we are faithful here, we may expect our Master to entrust us with higher service hereafter; If we live wholly to him here, we will be prepared for the glories unspeakable which await all consecrated souls.
Three: Negligent — Another servant comes with complaints and returns the given silver to the master (19:20-21). The nobleman told him to engage in business and make a profit, but he just kept the money hidden. He was so paralyzed by fear that he did nothing. No risks, no initiative. The judgement of the master is scaring. The master said to the bystanders, "Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds." He lost everything.

When we have lack of understanding of the giver and the resources we try to hide it and complain about it. Helmut Thielicke says "I can wrap my religion in my handkerchief and conserve it” .

We think we know how to use the resources God has given us. But the greed which results from the consumer culture, leads to neglect our responsibility and accountability . We need to take care of other creations in utilizing the available resources and also the natural resources. It is an act of love. The use of natural resources such as air, water, forest resources and soil should also be our responsibility of stewardship . 
Lord, help me offer everything you have given me as an offering to you.
Thought for the day
"God is the owner, and we are stewards. This means every breath you breathe, the mind you have, every single thing you possess ultimately comes from God, and He has expectations for how your breath, your mind, and your possessions are to be used. Which means we must be focused. We’re stewards. We must work diligently and responsibly with every single thing God’s entrusted to us. We want to be faithful to do what He calls us to do with the resources He’s given us to do it. We want to work hard. We want to work wisely with everything we have—our time, talents, our mind, our money, our life, our nature —everything, knowing that He’s coming back soon, and we want to be ready. We want to be ready for the day." - David Platt

Rev. Thomas P. Koshy
Kuzhikala Mar Thoma Church

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