“Our stewardship is not a casual part of our lives or an afterthought, but a prayerful, careful and generous lifestyle of gratitude. Planned and generous giving is our response to God’s love in Jesus.”
My dad worked hard to support his family. It was always a labor of love, and we appreciated the endless hours he spent in the field and barn of our northern Indiana farm. He was reluctant to spend money on himself; new shoes or overalls could always wait. He kidded that the cows were not fashion conscious and didn’t mind his patched britches.
It was evidently true — they never complained! It was a deep love that drew us, his four young children, to save up enough money so that we could buy him new overalls. It took all of us contributing and counting our coins daily, but what a joy it was to save together and then present him with the new overalls! In the same way, the gifts we give to God are a response to God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. When we as a district look at the mission field, we know that an intentional and bold ministry calls for faithful and joyful sacrifice. Faithful stewardship is the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes. When God’s Word and love fill our hearts and minds, our stewardship is not limited to specific acts, but, instead, becomes a lifestyle. Our lives and all of our gifts have a purpose.
As the Body of Christ in the Indiana District, we are one in that spirit and purpose! Lutheran Christians in particular are thoughtful in our use of God’s gifts. We look for bargains, save for what we need and avoid buying on impulse. We pray and think about our offerings as we look at our family budgets and plan our giving to God. Our stewardship is not a casual part of our lives or an afterthought, but a prayerful, careful and generous lifestyle of gratitude. Planned and generous giving is our response to God’s love in Jesus. And that response allows the Church to plow deep and wide in our communities, district and around the world.
Which brings me back to those overalls. When dad opened his present, we wanted him to try on the overalls and start using them right away. After all, we gave them to him for a purpose. We maybe even hoped the cows would appreciate his new barn fashion statement! Likewise, the offerings we bring to God flow out of our response to God’s love for us, and we pray that they will be used for His holy purposes.
True, it was a sacrifice to buy those new overalls, but a happy sacrifice. In the same way, we are happy to make sacrificial offerings to God. Remember, God loves a cheerful giver! That’s us when we understand stewardship as a proper and important expression of who we are and whose we are in Christ Jesus. It is a joy to see our gifts blended together to serve God in a myriad of exciting ministries in the Indiana District — even more exciting than new overalls!