Dear Our Savior Muscatine and Friends,
I published the following article in our June Newsletter (the July Newsletter is almost out of the barn also). It is the first of several articles that I would like the congregation to consider regarding Tithes & Offerings. I am not suggesting this because you don't financially support this congregation. You do. I am also not suggesting this topic because it's a popular topic. It's not. I am also not going to try and convince you to pay several thousand dollars to a consultant to spur us into giving more. The intention of the following article are to teach what Jesus says so our giving may be joyful for us and a help to our neighbor in need.
The Rev. Heath Curtis, an LCMS pastor from Illinois, wrote a series of articles that simply teaches the Scriptural view of how a Christian handles the gifts of God. These are teaching articles to encourage all of us to "excel in the grace of giving."
With that in mind and fully confident that God is the giver of every good gift, the first in a series of articles is offered here for your consideration. God bless you all. Pastor Pautz
God's Word on How We Use His Gifts
By Rev. Heath Curtis
Stewardship Under the Cross
God's Word on How We Use His Gifts
What is Stewardship? Christian stewardship is the faithful management of our financial resources and all we have. It begins with the understanding that all we have is God's (Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”) and that "we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1Tim 6:7).
Since all we have is God's, we should use it for His purposes. God's purpose for us in our lives is expressed in the various vocations, or callings, that we have. So, for example, a father and mother use their income to feed, clothe, and protect their children. Besides the vocations that each of us have in our family life and in society, we are also all Christians and members of this parish. How do we use our income faithfully in regard to this vocation? To learn this we must look to God's Word.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
Luke 16:13 Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Malachi 3:8-9 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse-- the whole nation of you-- because you are robbing me.
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9:6-8 But just as you excel in everything- - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.. . .
The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything.
What does this mean? Your heart always goes where you put God's money.
Stewardship is not an optional subcategory of the Christian life; it is the living out of a Christian's dependence on God. As such, faith and finances are inseparable. True joy is found not in storing up the things of this world, for the things of this world won’t last. True joy is found in clinging to Christ who poured out His life for you on the cross and now gives you His Life in Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord's Supper. The things of this world are temporarily given to us by God to see and we will be called to account for how we manage the Owner’s things (Rom.14:10-12, 2 Cor. 5:10).
THIS JUNE: Prayerfully consider your giving to God's work in His Church.
Are you, as St. Paul says, “excelling in this grace of giving”? If not, why not?
In next month's newsletter we'll consider more of what God says about Tithes & Offerings – specifically more about the Biblical practice of giving a portion of our income to God's work in the Church – and provide steps for planning your giving for the year ahead.