Dear Christ the Redeemer family,
These next four weeks, the lectionary takes us to Philippians—the letter in which the word “joy” appears most frequently and “rejoice” occurs more times than in any of Paul’s other letters. Yet, at the same time, in this letter Paul also expresses his awareness that all of life belongs to God; that our truest and fullest life is yet to come, in eternity; and that we, in fact, owe all to God. This joining of joy with surrender seems like a paradox at best (and a contradiction at worst!). But is there something to it?
As we are in Philippians, we’ll be looking at stewardship and its outworking in our lives. This week Lyn Shields gets us started with some reflections on her experience, and about how joy and generosity work together.
May Jesus Christ be Praised,
“Bring the whole tithe [1/10th] into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10).
I remember the first time I really paid attention to this verse. God is asking us to test Him on whether He will bless us when we give generously. As soon as my husband and I started to take this seriously, we noticed immediately that God responded. I wish I knew this when I was younger and strapped financially! Now, we smile when we decide to give more than we’d planned. We know God has something in store for us.
It never occurred to me—that being generous applies to all levels of financial security, that what I am giving to God is already His anyway, that He is asking me to give back to Him to help Him in His work.
We know the passage, “God loves a cheerful giver.” But…
“…the Bible contains more promises about giving and generosity than any other subject? Why? You’re never more like God than when you give. God gives. It’s what he does. He’s generous. All you have is a gift from God. You wouldn’t take your next breath if God didn’t give it to you. Every time you choose to give generously rather than hold on to what you have, you get a bigger—and healthier—heart” (Rick Warren).
When I give, I feel blessed, fortunate. privileged, and loved by God. I feel blessed by God and His provision, fortunate that I have something to give, privileged to be used by God to do his work, and loved by God for obeying His desire for me to give. Giving makes me feel joyful. Of course I am loved by God regardless of whether I give or not, but God is a giver and it must please Him when we do something which reflects His character.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Pr 11:25). There are many ways that we can help others and “financially” is only one of them. Some of us will help more with our time or talents, others of us more with our treasure. But our attitude toward money is often a barometer of our attitude toward everything else. God can show us where we need to grow.
As a member of the Stewardship Committee at Christ the Redeemer, I offered to share some of my thoughts because God has been working in my heart when it comes to giving. As God’s vision for Christ the Redeemer is shared with us, let each of us pray how to respond, financially and otherwise, to the gracious gift of God’s Son (2 Cor 9:15).