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Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: “Walking in Responsible Stewardship”

Amos 8: 4-12

Psalm 113

1 Timothy 2: 1-8

Luke 16: 1-12

Stewardship is the handling or the managing of things, possessions, resources that are another’s and is entrusted to somebody else. There are three things that I want us to remember. One, we are stewards, not owners. God is the Owner of the earth and all that is in it. Two, we will give an account someday of the things He has entrusted to us. Three, we should handle the things He has given us with eternity in our minds.

We are stewards, not owners. We don’t own squat. We don’t own anything. In the Parable of the Vineyard, it shows us the foolishness, even the tragedy that comes to us when we think we are the owners of things and not God. We are stewards of spirit, soul, body, time, talent, treasure and of everything else that God entrusts to us.

I used to go to a gym and one time, their drinking fountain was destroyed, so they brought out a water dispenser and gave each person in the gym a plastic cup where they were to put their name for their personal use. Most of the people wrote their names; I did not, instead, I wrote, “Not Yours.” This is to mean – don’t touch it; don’t claim it as your own unless authorized.

Naked we came into the world, naked we will leave it. What we have is God’s. We are to be a responsible steward of it. In Luke 16:12, Jesus said, “Be faithful in the using that which is another’s.” Be faithful in utilizing and in doing things so that the owner would trust you more and make you happy. Even if your name is written on paper that you are the owner, you are not for God is the Owner of the earth. Everything is on loan. Our lives, our bodies and the resources we have are of God’s. How do we use them? Are we generous with the money that God gives us? Do we care for the environment? Do we love the brothers and the sisters that He has given to us as family? They have been entrusted to us, and we are our brother/sister’s keeper because we are stewards. We do these things because we know that one day, we will give an accounting.

The ministry that we have is not our own. We share in the one ministry owned by God. This is the kingdom of God. This is the church of God. We participate simply in His ministry. When we do, we do according to His rules. In the kingdom of God, it is God’s will, God’s way. It is not God’s will, our way. As an example, if God says that we are to feed the poor, which is His will, we will need resources and maybe raise funds for it. Sometimes, we think that as long as it is God’s will, it doesn’t matter how we fulfill it – like for example robbing a bank to be able to feed the poor. It is His ministry and His kingdom, and there are principles and rules to follow because sometimes, our way, our wisdom gets in the way of the will of God.

Years ago, Christians involved in military combat thought that the will of God is for the earth to glorify Him. So, they killed the unbelievers so that those who were left will confess that Jesus is Lord. In Psalm 101:8, David said with a sincere heart that did not know God fully, "Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, so as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity." If the king will destroy every morning the wicked of the land, no one will be left on earth; but this is not how it is in God’s kingdom. How do we fulfill God's will? Do we cut off every one who sin? No, we forgive them; we build this Kingdom by winning our enemies through love not violence. Jesus showed us the example. He did not go about killing, but He went about doing good, preaching the gospel and healing the sick. We will give an accounting of what we did with God’s resources that He gave us. Our being stewards should not be motivated by the fear of the consequences, but by the love of God.

God will be in eternity. We should give with eternity in mind. We will spend the rest of eternity with Him. What kind of relationship will we want to have with Him seeing that we will spend eternity with Him? Romans 12:1 (MSG translation) says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering.” Everything that we do should be an offering unto the Lord. 1Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” In the life of the world to come, the constant song that will be sang is, “Holy, holy, holy.” We will not just literally sing this, but in the fullness of the kingdom of God, I believe everything will be done to the tune of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” as an expression of worship and a proclamation that God is holy. We do all things in our lives all for the glory of God.

The three things that I mentioned about stewardship should not be motivated by fear. As children of God, desiring to be like Christ, we should be living on a higher plane, operating on a higher love. We should obey and give of the resources entrusted to us not of compulsion, but out of love because the love of Christ controls us.

We should see commandments as relational, not legal, so that we do the commandments desiring to enhance our relationship with the God, the Giver of the command. It is not to serve as a basis for judgment if we don’t obey the commandments. A practical example is the giving of tithes and offerings. Our obedience has nothing to do with people's worthiness or needs; our giving is primarily about our relationship with God. It is primarily between us and God, first. It has nothing to do with anything else, first. There may be needs and people may benefit from what we give, but we give, first and foremost, motivated by our love for God, our relationship with Him.

Relationship and stewardship are connected to each other. If there is no relationship, our heart will not be into what we do. If a job, like being a caregiver, is done because it is a profession, a person may do his task because he is paid for it. If it happens that the caregiver is taking care of a relative of an “enemy”, chances are how he takes care of this person would be very much different if it was a relative of a best friend. There would be the care and the extra attention to be given.

What is our relationship with God? This is reflected in how we handle the things entrusted to us. If we have a concern for the things of God, we don’t have to wait for Him to tell us what to do. We will do it for Him voluntarily. Jesus said in John 17:19, “I sanctify myself for their sakes.” Stewardship is not all about the remuneration. It is a love for God in everything.

When I was younger, I exercised to improve my physical feature. Today, I exercise to be in good health, for long life, not only for my sake, but for my family, my ministry and those whom I love and who loves me. It is a responsibility that should be done motivated by love.

God will be in eternity, and this eternity includes NOW! Our eternal relationship with God can and should start NOW! Build a relationship with God. Be a good steward and take our everyday ordinary life, our eating, our going to work, our walking-around life, our loving others, our taking care of the environment, and our using of the money God entrusted to us are to be placed before God as an offering. If we love Him, we will understand that this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.

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