Stewardship and Generosity: Let’s Talk About It (part 2)

“Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29 NRSV)”

So often, when we hear the term, “generosity” we automatically think about giving financially. Being generous with our money. But, many times we forget that being generous also means to give of our time and talents (abilities). Being generous with our whole self. When we read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), we can see that he helped the man lying in the roadway by bandaging his wounds; being generous with his talent (knowledge of first aid). He helped him by putting him on his donkey and taking him to the Inn; being generous with his time. And, then he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and offered to reimburse him for his expenses; being generous with his money.

The basic definition of good stewardship is: the wise use of our resources.

So then, wise use of our personal resources would include our time, talent, and finances. As the Good Samaritan was generous with all of his resources, so too is Christ calling us to be generous with all of our resources.

“Stewardship and discipleship cannot be divided and are dependent upon each other.” – Doctrine and Covenants 162:7c

When the lawyer asked Jesus who his neighbor was, Jesus answered him with the story about the Good Samaritan. He answered him with a story about stewardship.

To inherit eternal life, we are commanded to love God with all our heart and soul, and also to love our neighbor. Christ defined loving our neighbor as an act of stewardship. Having compassion for someone who is within our reach and needs our help.

Let’s look a little closer at the commandment to love our neighbor as our self. How do we love ourselves? Well first off, we take care of our self. We feed ourselves, we clean our self, and we do what it takes to heal our self when we become injured. We buy things that we need to sustain ourselves. We do this through the use of resources we have available to us. We use our time, our talents, and our treasures to love ourselves. We use our personal resources to take care of ourselves. This is called personal stewardship.

If our personal stewardship is poor, then we are not doing a good job of taking care of ourselves. We don’t eat well. We don’t worry about becoming unhealthy through our bad habits. We spend our money frivolously. We are not doing a good job of loving ourselves.

On the other hand, if our personal stewardship is good, then we are eating well, trying to live in a clean and healthy environment, and spending our money wisely.

So, loving our neighbor as our self means: the wise use of our resources; our time, talent, treasures, to help our neighbor when they are in need. When Christ defines loving our neighbor in the Good Samaritan story, he is defining the term, “love” as an action; not as an expression or emotion. Taking care of something is an action; it requires us to physically do it. It requires us to give generously. Generosity is a response of our stewardship.

“Stewardship and discipleship cannot be divided and are dependent upon each other.”

The commandment to love God – is our spirituality. The commandment to love our neighbor – is our stewardship. Together they are our discipleship. And as disciples of the Christ movement, we are all called in our discipleship to exercise our spiritually and our stewardship together. We are all called to acknowledge that all things were created by God and should be used for God’s purposes and for the good of all creation.

“Stewardship and discipleship cannot be divided and are dependent upon each other.”

In the Peanuts comic strip (Charlie Brown), Lucy talked about love. She said, “All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

It can be hard to love the guy next door with the barking dog, or the annoying kids, especially when we don’t like them. But the secret to learning to love is to recognize that our neighbor, whether it’s the guy next door, the waitress at the local restaurant, or the Samaritan lying on the edge of the road, is someone worthy of God’s love – the same as you or me.

May your journey forward from today, be one of generosity, compassion, and good stewardship. A journey of love for God, and a journey of love for yourself and your neighbors.   And remember, a little bit of chocolate doesn’t hurt either.

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