Stewardship as a New Year's Resolution - Midweek Musing for 1/4/2023
Stewardship as a New Year's Resolution
Midweek Musing for January 4, 2023
As we move from 2022 to 2023, many folks will sit down and make New Year Resolutions. People make all kinds of resolutions. A survey was done to gauge what the top resolutions were. Exercising more, losing weight, and eating healthier led the list. Other items included saving more and spending more time with family and friends. As I looked at the list, I realized that the resolutions we make have several things in common.
First, they are all intended to make life better. That is, we hope that by doing them our lives will be more enjoyable and productive.
Second none of them are passive. In each case, we must do something. Unlike a savings account or a 5-year CD where you deposit something and wait for it to mature and reap the benefits, resolutions require action – typically repeated – even daily action.
And finally, all of them involve stewardship.
Now it may seem odd for the preacher to be discussing stewardship before the Christmas credit card statements arrive. Tradition says the church does stewardship in the Fall before Christmas shopping even begins so that the church budget can be prepared for the new year.
However, stewardship is more than money. In fact, it is only a small piece of it – even though the treasurer and finance committee might view it differently.
Instead, stewardship is really about all of our life. The late Rev. Tom Are, Sr. used to encourage churches to see stewardship not as a fundraising initiative but as a matter of encouraging folks to live their lives differently as they considered God’s love in all parts of their lives. He entitled this lifestyle stewardship and when I was fortunate enough to hear him teach and preach on stewardship this way changed my life.
Thus I try to consider all I do based on whether or not I am being a good steward of what God has given me. Sometimes I even make the right decision.
Thus, as we embark on the beginning of a brand-new year we should as followers of Jesus Christ consider every part of our life as we turn the calendar to the new year. We should think not simply in terms of resolutions but instead in terms of being good stewards.
We certainly recognize that the New Year has a special quality about it. We anticipate the days ahead will be filled with all kinds of possibilities, and our minds and hearts are full of hope that those days will be good ones.
If we’re realistic, we know that they can’t really be 100% good, so we stand on the brink of another year with mixed hopes and fears, wondering what we can do to make it a good year. Insofar as we are responsible, whether it’s a good year or not will depend to a very great extent on our stewardship of all God has given us. Perhaps the most valuable of the commodities we have to be stewards of is our time.
One of the things we cannot get more of is time. It’s limited and unlike a credit card limit, we have no idea how much or little of it we have.
Of course, The great refrain we hear and even exclaim in these days is: “I don’t have time!”
But, the plain and simple fact is that we do have time. The question is how will we use our time?
And that question is a question about our stewardship. We have to decide again and again what we do will do this vital commodity called time.
The question for all of us is never really “Do I have time?” but “What do I have time for?” And will I dedicate part of my time to some spiritual activity? Will I give some of my time for the building of the kingdom of God? Will I care for myself not just so I look better or feel better but so I will have the energy to work for justice, love others and go where God might lead?
It’s easy to think of putting things off until later.
If you recall Jesus spoke to this very thing.
“Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 NRSV
Now I know that there is so much need in the world that it seems overwhelming. And taking care of one’s self is essential. And certainly, no one can do it all nor can any one group or church or denomination.
Fortunately, we are not asked to do it all. Instead, we are simply asked to do the good that is ours to do.
It is both easy and that hard.
Of course, it starts with our stewardship – especially the stewardship of our time.
The question we are left with as we start the New Year is this – what kind of steward will you and I be of our gift of time?
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.