The Holy Spirit sanctifies us so that we are renewed in our spirit, will, attitude and desires. The Holy Spirit enables us to rise above our natural inclinations. The natural inclinations that we all have are inclinations of selfishness and self-centeredness.
Godly stewardship is the opposite of selfishness and self-centeredness. The desire to serve God and our neighbor above ourselves is enabled in Christians as the Holy Spirit through the Word continues to bring about the desire to put others and their needs above oneself.
The motivation for godly stewardship is a grateful response spurred on by the knowledge and understanding of what God has done for you. Jesus Christ our Savior gave His all in serving all sinners. Yes, He gave His all in serving you and me. Jesus was born under the Law, lived under the Law of God perfectly and died in obedience to that Law of God so that He might completely pay the price of your sins and give to you forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to you to create faith in your hearts through the Gospel and to change you so that you are released from being a slave to self-centeredness.
So how do we best serve God and our neighbors above ourselves? Well, certainly we serve those whom we know in our local congregation, in our neighborhoods and in our families. But could there sometimes be a bit of selfishness in what we do? More and more LCMS congregations are serving only locally or supporting only those missions that they determine are valuable to them.
Serving others through financially supporting districts and synod is falling by the wayside. Could this be due to a lack of properly motivated stewardship? This is perhaps the result of thinking that LCMS leadership has not always handled mission dollars judiciously or it might be due to the LCMS leadership supporting some effort that you disagree with.
Nevertheless, the leadership of the LCMS has been placed in their positions of oversight by God’s direction.
Realize that God is blessing us at this time with an economic boon in our country. Praise God that unemployment is low and job opportunities are good. Praise God that by God’s grace there are many areas of opportunity to serve God and our neighbor above ourselves. For example there are at least twenty foreign countries who have asked the LCMS to send them theological educators. But the educators haven’t been sent due to lack of resources.
Remember that we Christians live in community. Our vision isn’t simply focused on the local or only far away but on the whole “Una Sancta” that is the whole Christian Church. God grant us the determination that since we are all through faith in Christ part of the catholic (universal) Christian Church our stewardship of talent and treasure be offered up to God and all of our neighbors. Not just a select few.
Rev. Geoffrey L. Robinson