A Missing Lesson About Financial Stewardship….that is Absolutely Necessary!
“So when you offer your gift to God at the altar, and you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar. Go and make peace with that person, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 NCV
The boldness of Luther in the hour of danger has been sadly misrepresented by his enemies. It has been attributed to arrogance, self-confidence, and as many other evil qualities as would have constituted a thousand demons. But when we withdraw the veil of his private life, and get an acquaintance with his thoughts in solitude, we get a different view of him. When we follow him to his retirement, and hear nothing but that solitary, penitential cry, “My sins, my sins,” we do not find much self-reliance. It was not in himself that Luther found confidence: it was in the arm of Omnipotence.
2. That a man pray in every time of trial and need; for, the greater our need the stronger is our prayer. Therefore also God, in the 50th Psalm, says: “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” (Always and everywhere there is sufficient provocation to prayer if one will but realize it).
In a lot of churches, November is a month of budget preparation for the next year, and for those churches, Stewardship drives and Stewardship Sundays and fundraising takes a lot of time. At least that is the way many of us were trained, and based on emails and programs sent to me, it still is a major endeavor for some.
I have yet to see a program started in the words of Jesus, found in Matthew’s gospel, and quoted above. For one good reason, the fiscal impact of this heard in our churches would cause the offering plate to have a different weight, for most would hear this as a required first step, and decide it wasn’t worth the effort! They might say, “So if I can’t give unless I reconcile, I guess – I don’t have to give!”
And the most time we don’t want to reconcile, it is because we see “those” much as some Catholic leaders of his day saw Luther! (and undoubtedly as he saw them!) Courts declare such relationship divied, based on irreconcilable differences, whether the relationship is a business or marriage. And in some cases, for the moment, so they are.
But look at Hunt’s words about Luther – everything would change if they could have witnessed how he was haunted by sin, terrified by a God he thought could not love him–then he realized scripture revealed Jesus far differently. some tried to steal that comfort, that peace that knowing our sin was completely forgiven! No wonder he was a little perturbed at Eck and Tetzel, then at the pope that defended their work!
But how do we get through the hardship of trying to do the impossible and reconcile with people we can’t stand? Well, I can tell you that the only way is through and during prayer – while we plead with God for such. Our faith and trust in God deepens as the Spirit empowers us to reconcile. For there is no other way to approach it, except trusting in God to break hearts and restore souls and in doing so, bring about the desire of God. To bring about what Christ’s directive states…
This is far more pleasing to God that throwing $20, $50, or $10,000 in the offering plate….
So be good stewards – first of relationships, then of other treasure, talents and time. And know, God will supply whatever you need, for you dwell in Jesus! Amen!
Martin Luther and John Hunt, The Spiritual Songs of Martin Luther: From the German, trans. Thomas Clark (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1853), vi–vii.
William Lœhe, Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians, trans. H. A. Weller (Chicago: Wartburg Publishing House, 1914), 1.