This Sunday’s reading from The Acts of the Apostle is Radical Stuff!
– “Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles” (Acts 4:34).
What was it that inspired the first Christian community to embrace such radical stewardship? None of the early Church members claimed that their possessions were their own. They understood the truth about stewardship – we don’t really own anything, it all comes from and belongs to God. One of the joys of stewardship comes from the confidence in knowing that God always provides for our material and spiritual needs (Matt 6:33). This belief frees us from uselessly worrying about of having enough!
“The kingdom is where God provides for all that we need. It is the realm of sufficiency where we are no longer pulled here and there by anxiety about having enough” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).
Armed with a God-grounded confidence, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the first Christians embraced radical stewardship and shared everything they had!
Believing that everything we possess is a gift from God stirs up the virtue of gratitude in our hearts. Gratitude to God then inspires us to make a conscious and confident decision to share our gifts. Stewardship is sharing in gratitude not out of obligation or duty. When grateful hearts inspire giving, joy always accompanies the gift. Imagine how grateful the first Christians were? They had just received the incredible gift of a new life in Christ. The first followers were “all in” and their stewardship was rewarded both personally, “God greatly blessed his followers, and no one went in need of anything” (Acts 4:34) and as a community of believers, “each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The example of stewardship we see in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that stewardship is not new. Stewardship is God’s idea. It’s radical stuff, God likes it.
The first followers were “all in” and their stewardship was rewarded!
The first Christians were responding to God’s goodness. A great way for us to respond to God’ s goodness is to consider tithing. God’s word on tithing remains valid today and we can trust in his word. For someone new to tithing they may well see it as monumental leap in their giving. I recall the first time Lynn and I considered making the move to tithing. We thought how can we ever do this! However, we were encouraged to simply start…start small and work our way to 10%. It took a few years but we got there, and we have never looked back. Moreover, we have never been better off! We are better off not just because of the ten percent we give, but because of how we steward the 90% we keep. Stewardship is about how we care for 100% of our gifts. God wants it all stewarded well. The day to day choices that stewardship inspires us to make are what have contributed to us being “better off”. Still, there are those out-of-nowhere rewards that we can only explain as God-incidences. Seems he will simply not be outdone in giving.
What has been your experience with tithing? How or why did you start? If you haven’t tried it, give it go! It’s radical stuff, and God does indeed honor it, we have his word on that! “I am the Lord All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing” (Malachi 3:10).