Using our time, talents, gifts, and resources to further God’s kingdom
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Sometimes people begin to stiffen when you start talking about giving and stewardship; but I hope that you understand by this point that stewardship starts with the heart, not the wallet! We have looked at various aspects of stewardship: starting with our hearts being aligned with God, then with sharing with our community and understanding what is “enough,” then having a spirit of contentment, and finally we are looking at what it means to give as part of stewardship.
But giving away is not just money. Giving deals with our time, energy, and resources as well. There are many ways to further God’s kingdom-building work in the world. And I want to make clear that giving in any of these ways is not for a particular age-group. People from 4 to 104 can give in all of these ways, it just may look a little bit different.
Time is a precious resource, but we each are given exactly the same amount of time each day. “I don’t have time,” is not really a valid excuse. A more accurate statement is that, “That activity is not a priority.” Each year at the church, volunteers give countless hours to ministries like hospitality, KidZone, Youth/Rock, Healing Care, worship team, and many others. And it’s not about ticking off the box that you gave of your time, but rather finding a ministry in or outside of the church that you feel called to give your time to.
Frederick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Churches don’t need more volunteers, they need people who are deeply passionate about certain ministries.
Another way to give is of your energy. One thing that comes to mind with this is my little sister. She lived in Colombia, South America until she was adopted at age 8. When she came to the states she was pretty used to foraging for food, and didn’t have a lot of resources readily available. Shortly after moving in with my family, before she even spoke English, my family was outside enjoying the sun and she was indoors. After about fifteen minutes, she came out the back door with a tray of ketchup sandwiches for everyone in the family. We gratefully accepted her gift. She used her energy to do what she knew how to do, and it made everyone’s day!
Finally, God calls us to give of our resources and money. Giving our money away refocuses our lust for wealth on the joy of sharing. Different people give in different amounts and in different proportions, but we know from the story of the widow’s 2 cents that God values our heart in the matter, more than our wealth. Giving cheerfully, even out of our poverty, means more than the amount. Generosity has little correlation to overall wealth. Sometimes there are very stingy rich people and very giving poor people, and vice versa. Give in whatever proportion you are able and whatever God has called you to give.
Giving doesn’t just change our personal bottom line, it also changes our hearts. I have found that the more I give, the happier I am, and the more dependent on God. It is an upward spiral to give and to seek God, rather than the downward spiral of hoarding wealth and working backbreaking weeks to make more money.
Of course, the church does want people to give regularly who are a part of it, to cover costs and help with the various mission causes we support. Each year we spend about 18% of our annual budget at SPL supporting mission causes like Presbyterian World Service and Development, Sunrise Pregnancy Center, YoungLife, Emmanuel International, Navigators, InterServe, Hainamosa New Song, to name a few. It’s important to us here that even as a church body we support external ministries that are furthering the kingdom.
Corporately, we remind ourselves that even the money coming into the church is not ours, but God’s. At Christmas each year, the entire offering goes out the door to support a different ministry each year. This is a small way that we realign our hearts as a community with God’s mission and take just “enough.”
We value that you may have other organizations that you want to give to as well. A few that I would recommend are Compassion International (if you are looking for child sponsorship), Kiva (which funds microloans for entrepreneurs in the third world), PWS&D (currently Canada is matching funds with them to give to the famine in Africa), and Friends of Children Everywhere (the organization that supports Casa Bernabe orphanage in Guatemala). The point is to give somewhere.
Living richly is more than richly living—it is about the heart of the matter. I hope that as you give some of your time, energy, resources, and money, God will richly bless you.
Activity: Give boldly!