Realize ‘Rationale’ for Stewardship

Realize ‘Rationale’ For Stewardship

Chapter One

Realize 'Rationale' For Stewardship
"Make Me More Like God" – Part I 12 Worship God Through Your Work! 18
"Make Me More Like God" – Part II 13 The Little Red Hen Story 20
The Stewardship Of Work 14 The Musing Of A Very Generous Giver… To Some Causes 22
Reward For Work Well Done Is More Work To Do! 16 Questions 24

Genesis 1:26-31

"Make Me More Like God" – Part I

If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the gold and silver in every mine, can create a vast universe with a spoken word, can cause the earth to burst forth with fruitfulness… then why in the world does He need me to give??

God has answered that question in very explicit and detailed ways. In fact, we don't get past the first chapter of Genesis without an answer to the question. In Genesis 1:26 He says: "Let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion." God's expressed desire was to have a family and that those family members would be created in His image and in His likeness. What He expressed indicates that His children in His "image" would be a reflection of His Glory and His Characteristics. To create children in His "likeness" suggests that they will be compatible with Him.

God then suggested that this family, in His image and likeness, would have "dominion" or "have rule over" the earth and all its resources. These words are synonymous with "stewardship." God placed His family members in a position of "stewards" over His creation with the provision that their faithful stewardship over God's resources would be a reflection of His image and His likeness.

We are very much aware that the image and likeness was marred by the breakdown of stewardship responsibilities on the part of Adam and Eve. To put it very simply, they appropriated for their personal use and enjoyment some of the resources God had placed under their "stewardship" but had reserved solely for Himself. They had very clear instructions as to the results of their disobedience in using these God-reserved resources. They also discovered that their wrongful decision led to their own impoverishment and separation from God. Consequently, the "image" of God in His family was destroyed.

God, in His love, desired to restore that image of Himself into His children. Since that image could only be restored through a new or second birth, God gave His son, Jesus Christ, to make it possible for man to be born again and, by that new birth, restore the image of the Father.

"Dear Lord, thank you that You gave the best You have so that I could become more like You. Let Your image be seen in my life."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The only image of God that many will see is in my life.

– Edward Rickman –

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Romans 8:28-32

"Make Me More Like God" – Part II

God's plan in creation was restored through Christ with the added responsibility and privilege of being "stewards" of the message of hope, life, and restoration for the whole world.

The church was given the privilege and responsibility of disciplining those in whom God's image was restored, to also produce "Christ-likeness" in them. Since "likeness' is developed by being together and interaction with each other, God has provided the graces of worship, devotional, and fellowship experiences for our benefit.

He continues to give His children "rule over" or "dominion" over the resources of life. This "stewardship" is the area where we exercise our obedience to Him and allow His "likeness" to be fully developed. The only way I can become like God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to become an obedient giver.

The Word is so clear! "For God so loved the world that He Gave His only begotten Son." The Son, Jesus Christ, is also a Giver. He is the giver of life, hope, salvation, strength, sustaining, and intercession. Every attribute of His personhood suggests "giving" of Himself.

Consequently, I cannot be like the Father until I become like His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the express image of the Godhead, bodily. I cannot be like the Son until I become a giver. As someone has said: "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving." I would add that you cannot be like Christ without giving.

Human nature longs to receive, to possess, and to appropriate all we can for our own benefit. To become a "giver" requires a new discipline of grace within us that is motivated by a desire to be like Christ. The discipline of giving is sometimes hard because it is antithetical to our natural and normal response. But the benefits of this discipline and grace of giving are absolutely phenomenal.

That's God's purpose! That's God's plan! To make us like Himself in His image and in his likeness. And the only way to be like Him is to be a giver.

"O God, make me more and more like You in every discipline of my life."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: When you give, you are more like God than at any other time.

– Edward Rickman –

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Genesis 1:27-31; Genesis 2:15, Genesis 2:19-20

The Stewardship Of Work

What is your attitude toward 'work'? Do you see work as a 'necessary evil', the penalty for being a man? Do you see work as a mere nuisance or 'intrusion'? Is work to you an unbearable load, an 'unending drudgery'? Do you see work as something to be 'avoided'? There are some people who avoid work because of their indolence and indifference and laziness. Or are you a person who 'worships work' (a 'workaholic')? Each of these attitudes toward work are non-Christian (unbiblical) attitudes.

What is the Christian attitude towards work? In brief, Christians are to see work as a gift from God. It cannot be denied that, because of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, work has become more difficult (Genesis 3:17-19). Man works by the 'sweat of his brow' to make a living. And anyone who tries to raise a garden knows all about the thorns and thistles which grow faster than the bean plants. But even though the challenge and affects of work have been changed since the Fall of Man, the fact still remains that work was a part of God's original intention for man – even before the Fall. Our scripture reading for today points this out. Work was given to man by God before man fell into sin. Work is not a penalty from God for being a man. Because God intended that the creatures who were made in His own image (humans) should work, we must conclude that work is 'sacred'. God created work for man's good!

Work is man's opportunity to perfect God's good creation. God created a good world, but not a perfected world. God created 'raw products' in order that man may use the raw products to produce a completed product. God is the great Creator. Man is created in God's image and likeness. Therefore, man is a 'little creator', created by God to create good out of nature's raw materials. Following His several acts of creation, God declared His actions as 'good', but not 'perfected'. It is left to man to perfect God's incomplete world. Work is one way in which man experiences the purpose of his unique creation – namely, to glorify God by being creative. The result of man and God working together in creation is fellowship. Man is totally dependent upon God, but God has chosen to be 'dependent' upon man as well, if God's creation is to be completed! God did not create finished products. He leaves this up to man! God could have created ready-made houses for man to live in, but, instead, God gives man trees from which man builds houses. God intends fur man to subdue the earth, that is, to use the raw materials to create good and useful tools and products. However, man is not to exploit the earth's resources. To waste the earth's resources and to pollute the earth's atmosphere is to sin against the Creator who intended the earth to be a blessing to mankind, not a curse!

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"Lord of all creation, carefully guide me in the exercise of my God-granted power to dominate over the earth. Save me from the temptation to 'lord over' other people and to exploit the world's resources for my own selfish use."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Man's 'lordship' over the earth is always subject to Christ's 'lordship' over all of created matter. He alone is the 'Creator' and the 'Sustainer' of life!

– Ron Christian –

NOTES:

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2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Ephesians 4:28

Reward For Work Well Done Is More Work To Do!

Work is a gift from God. God created work for man's good. Work is man's opportunity to perfect God's good creation. It is also true to say that work is a 'sacrament to God', i.e., your daily work is the chief way for you to serve God! The work you do must contribute to God, to your fellow men, and to the world in general. Your work must be unselfish in its motive. The unique work you choose must contribute to the 'upbuilding' of the entire community of which you are a part. (It is for this reason that Christians should not sell or deal with spirituous liquors or with tobacco, for neither of these things contribute to God or to man, and neither make for a more beautiful world). With these clear Biblical principles in mind, how should a Christian choose his 'life's work'? Notes Elton Trueblood: "The concept of vocation changes radically and crucially the way in which a young person approaches his life work or preparation for it. Apart from this concept his major questions often have to do with probable income, personal advancement manner of living and choice of location. There is no doubt that many now choose their work with these specific considerations uppermost in their minds, for this is the 'natural' way. However, one who chooses in the light of vocation has a wholly different standard. His central interest is not in money or professional advancement, but in how he can make the best strokes to help clean up the mess of the world before it is too late. His motto is, 'Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work.' The young person who has caught the vision implicit in the idea of vocation looks out at the world and tries to see how its need can be matched by his own latent powers. This, as millions know, is the way in which Albert Schweitzer determined to study medicine after he had already proved himself successful in another profession. The man who lives by the principle of vocation has substituted concern for advancement." (Common Ventures of Life; pgs. 88,89)

While it is true that a Christian must not become 'unbalanced', resulting in becoming a 'workaholic', it is also true that a Spirit-filled Christian gladly 'embraces' work and responsibility as a God-given gift. He knows that the reward for work well done is more work to do (i.e., greater responsibility in working as a 'little creator' with the Master Creator – the Lord God!). Work is an occasion for joyous creativity. "Our happiest moments are not those in which we ask how to be happy, but rather those in which we so lose ourselves in some creative task, which seems to us important, that we forget to take our own emotional pulse. When we plant trees, write books, build houses or make roads, we often find that we have been having a wonderfully good time and that we are not immediately driven to do something to have 'fun'. We have had, all along, something better than anything which commercialized and self-conscious entertainment can ever provide." (Elton Trueblood; Ibid; pg. 93)

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"Father, help me always to remember that happiness comes not by idleness but by working, not by grasping but rather by giving. In the name of the Master Carpenter."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Life does not consist in the abundance of leisure and entertainment that I can consume, but in the abundance of loving service I can give!

– Ron Christian –

NOTES:

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Proverbs 6:6; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

Worship God Through Your Work!

Man is not to worship work, but man is to worship God through his work. How do you worship God in your work? First, by communing with God as you carry on your daily work. To 'pray without ceasing' is to commune with God as your closest Friend throughout your day, through all the changes and chances of life. This certainly includes the forty to sixty hours you spend working at your 'secular employment'. Although your conscious mind must be on your work, you subconscious mind can be saturated with God! Susanna Wesley (the mother of John and Charles) had a prayer: "Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Thy presence." Remember, God is with you just as much as you work on Monday as when you worship on Sunday. Work and prayer are simply two ways in which man and God cooperate together to change the world.

Not only can you worship God in your work by communing with God throughout the day, but also you can worship God in your work, secondly, by allowing God to be your partner in all of your work. One modern-day businessman who took this truth seriously is Stanley Tam. When he started his business several years ago, he determined to make God his 'senior' partner. No decisions would be made without consulting God, his 'senior' partner in the business. Not only did God honor his commitment by allowing Stanley Tam to build a large and financially-successful company, but God gave Stanley Tam unusual opportunities, through his expanding company, to witness to many persons. Stanley Tam had the joy of winning scores to Christ, right in his executive office! Whether you are an employer or an employee, you must allow God to be your partner in all of your work.

Third, you can worship God in your work by sharing God with others as you work. When opportunity arises, you can joyously and humbly share your testimony for Christ with your fellow employees. You can 'share' Christ by your example, i.e., by the way you work conscientiously for your 'boss' and by the way you act and react around your fellow employees.

"It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting an anvil, sawing a beam, white-washing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in His grace you do it as your duty. To go to communion worthily gives God great glory, but to take food in thankfulness and temperance gives Him glory too. To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give Him glory too. He is so great that all things give Him glory if you mean they should." (Gerald Manley Hopkins)

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"Lord of all 'pots and pans' make me a 'saint' by washing up the plates!" (Brother Lawrence)

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The' religious' and the 'secular' is 'sacred', for the whole earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof!

– Ron Christian –

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1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 6:1

The Little Red Hen Story

One day Little Red Hen was scratching in the farmyard when she found a grain of wheat. Being a good manager and looking forward to the future she said: "Who will plant the wheat?" The answer from the duck, the dog, and the cat was negative: "Not I." "Very well then," said Little Red Hen, "I will." So she planted the grain of wheat.

After sometime the wheat grew tall and became ripe. "Who will cut the wheat?" Asked Little Red 'Hen, The reply was the same as before from the duck, the cat, and the dog. In fact, the same answer was given when it came time for threshing the wheat, taking the wheat to the mill to have it ground into flour, and making the bread. So Little Red Hen did the work.

But the response was different when the warm bread was taken from the oven. "Who will eat the bread?" The reply was, "Oh, I will!" said the duck, and the dog, and the cat. But they didn't receive a taste of it; and Little Red Hen in turn shared it with her chicks.

That's an interesting story, isn't it? Does it bring back memories from grade one or two?

I don't know, but maybe Little Red Hen wasn't a good organizer, or motivator, or dynamic enough in this situation. I don't know what kind of a personality she had since she didn't seem to be able to get the assistance of the cat, and dog, and duck, to help her in the many duties of her household. Had she been more efficient and proficient her nerves would have been less taunt and her body aches hardly noticeable.

Perhaps the duck and cat and dog in conference among themselves hinted that – "Yes, we should help Little Red Hen in this project; it is worthwhile;" – – but their consciences were soothed by the fact that was not their things. Swimming, chasing mice, or hunting rabbits were more enjoyable.

What do you think?

Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9 says, "For we are laborers together with God." Those are interesting words: l-a-b-o-r-e-r-s   t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r   w-i-t-h   G-o-d.

Laborers: work, toil, exertion. A sign in my high school chemistry room read: "laboratory – if you use the first five letters and less of the last seven, you'll succeed in this class."

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TOGETHER: one company; hand in hand; one heart; one mind.

WITH: a relation of proximity. In a local church together; by prayer and communication to God's ambassadors, the missionaries, in other lands.

GOD: our supplier, director, superintendent.

One cannot do the job of building the Kingdom of God alone; we need each other. But it is God's kingdom we are building. Let us be faithful and cooperative in fulfilling God's call upon our lives.

"Our Heavenly Father, with thanksgiving we express our desire to labor with You and others in the building of your kingdom! Amen!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Today I will, by God's grace, do my best to work in any way with others for the building of God's Kingdom.

– Floyd Cooper –

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Luke 6:27-38

The Musing Of A Very Generous Giver… To Some Causes

It's the time again! The "Offering plate" is being passed. Somehow you don't feel inclined to give. The leadership is not performing to your satisfaction. The programs seem to be missing the mark. There's the feeling that your fellow travelers are pretty discouraged. The young people are really turned off. Many people are losing their jobs, and even yours isn't all that secure. You certainly don't sense the satisfaction you wish you did.

It seems so unreasonable that I should give such a high percentage of my income away. It costs so much to maintain a home these days. Kids are so expensive too. The prices of everything are going up continually. There just isn't enough to go around.

Perhaps if I had more of a voice in how my giving is spent, I'd feel better about it. Some of the decisions about spending are absolutely ridiculous. I really don't understand why they can't be considerate of the feelings of those of us who want our money spent with more discretion.

Another thing that bothers me – I never get a report of how my giving is actually used. I don't know how much of it is spent on salaries or maintenance or paper. I don't even know how much of it is being sent overseas.

And then, when I think about the benefits that I personally enjoy from my giving, it's hard to come up with a very long list. I really don't feel very generous.

Actually, when the "offering plate" is passed on April 15, I'm inclined to pass. The only problem is that the "offering plate" is being passed by the IRS!

You know, "it 'really makes a 'difference in my decision to give when I find out who is passing the "plate". I wonder why that is. I wonder why I suddenly become so willing to give up to 15.62% of my income for the Social Security Tax and another 18 – 35% of my income for Federal, State, and Local Taxes when April 15 rolls around. Why don't I just pass this opportunity by?

Perhaps I can rationalize this whole business of giving. After all, I am a citizen of this country and I do live in this locality. There are a few benefits that I enjoy. Let's see, if I give my 15.62% of my income to Social Security for 45 working years and I average $50,000 a year in income, I'll have contributed $351,450. I can expect to get at least $12,000 – $15,000 a year benefit for as long as I live. Of course if I don't live too long, the government will get to keep all the rest. That proves a great sense of security!?!?

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Or does it?

For all those other taxes I pay I get roads to drive on, police protection, fire protection, and several other tangible benefits. I haven't quite figured out all the intangible benefits, but I'm sure they exist.

When I consider that my citizenship here is only short and temporary (on the average 72-75 years), I guess I can handle that type of giving. After all, there's a price to be paid if I don't!

"Dear Lord, help me to realize that my eternal citizenship is just as important (yes, much more important) as my temporary citizenship."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Giving without a choice often becomes a priority over giving with a choice which demonstrates where our greatest allegiance lies.

– Edward Rickman –

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Questions

  1. If God owns everything in the heavens and on earth, then why does He need for you (as one of His creatures) to give of your financial resources to Him? (Note Genesis 1:26-31)

  2. What 'graces' has God provided through the church to aid in God's goal of restoring the 'image of God' in mankind and of producing 'Christlikeness' in human beings?

  3. Tell why you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The only way I can become like God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to become an obedient giver." Is it true that every attribute of God's personhood suggests 'giving' of Himself! (Note John 3:16) Is it true that you cannot be like Christ without giving?

  4. Tell why you agree (or disagree) with the following statement: "The discipline of giving is sometimes hard because it is antithetical to our natural and normal human responses of selfishness."

  5. Put the letter 'F' by those statements which are 'unbiblical' (i.e. false), and put the letter 'T' by those statements which are 'Biblical' (i.e., true):

    1. __ Work is a 'necessary evil', the penalty for being a man.

    2. __ Work is a mere nuisance or 'intrusion', to be avoided as much as possible.

    3. __ Work is an unbearable load, an 'unending drudgery', all because the first human couple fell into sin.

    4. __ Work is an 'escape' from the responsibilities of one's home life, and provides a temporary relief from marital conflicts.

    5. __ Work is a gift from God, a part of God's original intention for man, even before the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

    6. __ God created work for man's good, and therefore work is 'sacred' and is something for which all persons should give thanks to God.

    7. __ Work is one way in which man experiences the purpose of his unique creation – namely, to glorify God by being creative.

    8. __ Work is man's opportunity to perfect God's good creation.

    9. __ Work provides man the opportunity to fulfill God's intention that man should 'subdue' the earth and use earth's 'raw materials' to create good and useful tools and products.

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  6. Why is the wasting of earth's resources and the polluting of the earth's atmosphere considered a 'sin' against the Creator?

  7. Why is it true that man's 'lordship' over the earth is always subject to Christ's 'lordship' over all of created matter?

  8. If the unique work which you choose to do must contribute to the 'upbuilding' of the entire community of which you are a part, what are some types of work in which you should have no involvements?

  9. What biblical principles should a Christian be committed to when he chooses his 'life's work'? If probable income, personal advancement, manner of living, and choice of location should NOT be the factors in making a decision for one's 'life's work', then what should be the 'main consideration' in a Christian's choice of his 'life's work'?

  10. Have you found that the following statement accurately describes your personal experience of "true happiness'? – "Our happiest moments are not those in which we ask how to be happy, but rather those in which we so lose ourselves in some creative task, which seems to us important, that we forget to take our own emotional pulse."

  11. List at least three ways in which you can worship God through your work.

  12. In consideration of 1 Corinthians 3:9, what specific talents, abilities, spiritual gifts, and training do you have which would enable you (as a 'member of Christ's Body') to be an effective laborer in cooperation with other fellow Christians in the church and in the world at-large?

  13. In light of the fact that a rather large percentage of your total income is given involuntarily for Federal and State and Local Taxes (and Social Security Tax), does it seem reasonable for you (as a believer) to voluntarily give at least 10% (a tithe) of your income to God's Kingdom work?

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