In a recent meeting that we had with some of our Michigan church leaders, it was brought up by a couple of folks, that we don’t seem to talk much in our sermons about stewardship anymore. That’s not the first time I’ve heard that statement. A couple of years ago, I was asked to be a guest speaker at another congregation, and as I often do, I try to use the scripture text for that week and see how I can tie that into our stewardship. After the service was over, an elderly lady approached me with extended arms to say thank you. She told me that was the first sermon she’d heard on stewardship in over five years! As I drove home that afternoon, I thought to myself, could it have really been five years? I began to wonder if I’m the only person who still talks about stewardship. It seems perhaps, we have substituted “generosity” for “stewardship” in our church-speak. But, they really aren’t the same thing. Generosity is a product of our stewardship. If we have good stewardship, then generosity becomes a natural response. I would like to talk a little bit about stewardship today.
Matthew 7:13-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Another translation: The Message (MSG)
13-14“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”
This scripture text is about making responsible choices. And in more technical terms, what this really is about, is our stewardship. How we decide to allocate our personal resources of time, talent, treasure (and testimony), are the choices we make constantly in managing our daily lives. Those choices, not only have an impact on our own personal lives, but it often has an impact on those around us: our family, our friends, and our community. Who we are, right now, in this time, and in this place, is an accumulation of all the choices we have ever made in our lives. Think about that. Think about all the choices you have had to make to get to be who you are, and where you are, right now in this moment.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
Life is hard. It’s filled with many choices. Life-altering choices. It is my hope that you are one of the few that finds that narrow road that leads to the small gate.