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Stewarding Very Little: Luke 16:10-12 (A Strategy) October 29, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament.
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USAmericans can easily be made to feel guilty for having so much; and then be manipulated into giving to any and all causes that come along. Trustworthy Stewards (Luke 16:10) recognize that they have been entrusted with ‘very little’ of God’s possessions and seek a clear and focused strategy for giving and spending. 

A clear strategy for giving and spending the very little which God has entrusted me can be developed through considering FOUR QUESTIONS:

1. What has Scripture revealed about God’s work for me? (Is the work I am doing or giving to in ‘synch’ with what has been revealed to me in the Bible?)

2. How are God’s organic life principles at work in this ministry? Some of these principles are as follows:

INTERDEPENDENCE – what influence does this ministry have on other things I am passionate about? [I can leverage my giving by looking for the broader impact a ministry can have. I can choose to give to a few ministries on which I focus and impact other ministries that have associations with my ministries.]

MULTIPLICATION – what is this ministry doing to replicate it’s influence elsewhere?

SYMBIOSIS – is this ministry working in cooperation with other ministry works? [In a day of constricted resources, working together is a sign of great humility and stewardship.]

FRUITFULNESS – is this ministry producing “fruit” after its own kind? [Jesus expects fruit-bearing in his Kingdom.]

ENERGY TRANSFORMATION – how is this ministry using either positive or negative energy to propel its work?

SUSTAINABILITY – what systems is this ministry putting in place by which to sustain itself to its given end?

3. How has God used me in the past? What are my unique gifts and skills? I am not called to be all things to all people or meet every need I see. I am called to be set apart for a unique (and very small) purpose in God’s grand plan. My stewardship of resources will always be an extension of who I am.

4. What does the broader community of Christ say about my giving and spending plan? Are these others in this with me or am I in this alone? There are no “only Christians”. God has given me others; and I must learn to invite conversation regarding stewardship, trusting the Holy Spirit in others to guide me. Have I allowed other Kingdom people to review my work and ministry; to speak honestly about my present reality?

Just Stewards Part 2 – (An Invitation) October 29, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament.
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So let us invite Luke 16:10-15 to search us by asking these questions:

1. How have my spending and giving habits reflected my heart’s attitude toward God and what belongs to Him. Do I view Him as a “rich uncle” who ought to endow my plans? If so, I have the heart of the unjust steward that Jesus calls ‘wasteful’, and I must begin to look more closely to see the reality of what I have been given to steward.

2. Do I have a clear strategy for the use of the “very little” with which I have been entrusted? If my answer is “no”, I am being dishonest and unstrustworthy (not to mention what I do to discredit God’s good, provisional nature when I speak and act like He doesn’t ‘come through’).

Once I have tested my stewardship and am confident that I have done my part in being trustworthy, then it is appropriate to appeal God and His people for ‘underfunding’ the assignments I have received from God. And if I am confident that I am, in fact, doing the work to which I am called (and only that work), and funds are diminishing, I have every right to call God’s goodness into question. God’s work gone God’s way will never lack God’s provision.

But if I have come up short when reflecting upon these issues along with the Holy Spirit, I must make adjustments to my stewardship behavior patterns. When I do, God’s nature is to entrust me with greater funds for greater works because His hope is to grow my heart’s capacity to manage greater things for eternity.

Just Stewards – Luke 16:1-12 (A Meditation) October 29, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ.
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I’ve been asked to be a fundraiser now for several Christian organizations. Each one has been the same story: Big ideas for all of the things that could be done in the name of God to help more people, reach more people, save more people . . . but a dwindling funding source for these dreams. I’ve heard “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He’ll come through for our ideas.” And, “if His people would just open their wallets and give more, imagine all we could do.”

The parable of the ‘unjust steward’ and the verses that follow shed light on some problems at the heart of these dilemmas. Primarily it gets us to look at our role in the work of God before blaming Him or His people for not keeping up their end.

The story is about stewardship and determining whether or not one is a trustworthy steward. The unjust steward of the story is found to be ‘wasteful’. This is a reflection of his attitude toward his rich master. Perhaps he became wasteful of someone else’s stuff/money by thinking thoughts like, “my master is rich, there’s no end to his money, surely he won’t miss a few dollars here or there.” And he reinforces this belief each time he spends or gives wastefully.

After he is caught, he loses his job. But he acts shrewdly going around reducing everyone’s debt (again, spending his master’s money) before the debtors know he doesn’t work for the master anymore. The debtors end up liking both the master and the steward more as a result; and the steward is commended by the master and by Jesus for understanding how money can be used to influence friends and promote your boss.

Next Jesus preaches (vv. 10-15) clearly about trustworthiness with what we own as a way of developing the kind of heart that can be trusted in eternity with the Life and Riches of God. First He says – if you have been trustworthy with very little you will be trusted with much. When we compare ourselves to God and when we compare what we are entrusted with on earth to what we will inherit in heaven, every human being has “very little”. Very little is the portion we’ve been given with the hearts we have to exercise our giving and spending muscles to ready them for eternity. This means that while God may own the cattle on a thousand hills (and a few solar systems), we do not.

We have been allotted a very small amount of God’s possessions that we must steward. This will require clear, strategic and focused giving and spending patterns. We have been allocated a limited amount in proportion to our limited skills and finite hearts. We can also be sure that the resources are sufficient for the work God desires for us to do. Whenever we overspend that allotment we are acting like the unjust steward. The words Jesus uses to describe such a person are “wasteful”, “dishonest” and “untrustworthy”.

The lack of discipline in this area does nothing to prepare our hearts for our eternal work. “If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own [especially those things you will possess forever]?”