One of our five core values at the Southern California Conference is stewardship. We have defined it in the following way:
Stewardship: We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist just for us; we exist for the world. We will give and manage our resources with excellence for this mission.
Our society and culture are surrounded by consumerism. We see it everywhere. When we go to the stores, everything is geared towards getting the best offer, buying the best product for the best price. While we are driving our eyes are entertained by the best billboard trying to convince us of the best promotion. Our computers, our phones, even the yard sale across the street—everything is about how to get the best deal. The constant message is buy, buy, buy! You need it! You deserve it!
Our garages are full of things, and yet we think we need more. We want more.
As a church we want to send a different message based on two attributes of God´s Character: His generosity and His example of service.
Let’s consider the first attribute, His generosity. We can see God´s generous giving in Creation. From the very beginning God—the extravagant giver par excellence!—not only created this world in beauty and abundance for us, but He left traces of His generosity in nature to point us in the direction of giving.
Just to mention a few:
- The lovely birds give us their happy songs
- The beautiful flowers give us their lovely scent
- The lofty trees with their rich foliage give us their fresh shadows
If we see nature carefully, we cannot but find the example of God´s generous giving; and that generosity sustains us even today. The psalmist expressed it masterfully by saying:
“The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16 NIV)
As a church we want to follow God´s example of generosity. Therefore, we want to emphasize giving more than receiving. Giving, more than buying. Contributing more than taking.
Let me suggest three areas where we can give.
1. We can give our time
Volunteering can make a difference. There are many agencies that are needing someone to volunteer. The church is one of them. Think about giving more of your time to benefit others.
2. We can give of your talents
There are things that only you can do. There are beautiful talents that are needed everywhere. Play that violin, paint that art, give that speech, fix that part that is broken, heal that wound. Your talents in God´s hands can make an eternal difference.
3. We can give of your resources.
We always say, it is not how much you give, but the spirit with which you give. However, I think both aspects are important. Give with the right spirit, but give more, much more. Money is a blessing when we give it. John Wesley said it this way:
“(Money) is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father for the fatherless; we may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death.”
The second attribute of God is His example of service. God is never a bystander only. He is constantly in action, serving. Certainly, the best example is the life of Jesus.
When we observe His life, we discover that He came to serve. When there was no servant to wash the feet, He became the servant. All His miracles were a display of selfless service.
Luke said it this way in the book of Acts 10:38, “… he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
As a church we want to follow Jesus’ example of service. We want to be a blessing to the world. Individually we want to actively serve. We want to be in action not in passivity. We want to serve selflessly.
I think God´s invitation for us today is to live a life of extravagant giving and selfless service. A life that makes a difference. A life that actively cares for others. That is true stewardship!
By Jaime Heras, Hispanic Region Director for the Southern California Conference