One of my favorite pieces of music is Vivaldi's “Four Seasons.” It is powerful to hear how the composer uses the strings to paint intense portraits of the different seasons; spring, summer, fall and winter. I would assume that most of you are aware that there are other seasons of the year apart from the regular ones that come to mind. For example there is football season, hunting season, planting season, allergy season, etc. In fact the Scriptures say “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” That is a lot of seasons.
Some seasons are particular to a certain group of people. In the church world, you may or may not be aware, September and October are months when many churches have “stewardship season” or stewardship campaigns. It is the season for pledging money for next year so a budget can be formulated. So in the late summer our mailbox is full of all kinds of mail from businesses that are trying to help us as a church to have a “fruitful stewardship season.” There is nothing particularly wrong with this type of approach, but that is not the way we do things at Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church. As your Sr. Pastor, I am not interested in having a “stewardship season” because stewardship is not something we should focus on once a year. Stewardship is something we do day in and day out all year long. I hope that my teaching reflects that belief.
The main problem with “stewardship” is that most people simply equate it with financial giving. That is a very stunted view of stewardship. Yes, stewardship has to do with our giving, but it is not limited to our financial resources. Stewardship rightly understood has to do with every breath we take. The scope of stewardship covers every aspect of our lives. So, is this important? You had better believe it is important because it is important to God! We read in Genesis 1 that man was created to be the steward of God's creation. That mandate for stewardship has not been lifted; it is still a vital part of who we are as God's creatures.
Let's step back here for a moment and think of why I might be writing about stewardship. Well I've been preaching through Acts and Acts covers a great number of aspects of the Christian life, not the least of which is stewardship. I am teaching a Sunday school class on how to read the Bible so that we might become better disciples and I have begun preaching a short series on discipleship. I am concerned for the church that we become a church full of disciples of the Lord Jesus. Why am I spending precious time and effort to do this? It boils down to this; discipleship can be used quite nicely as a synonym for stewardship.
When we start talking in terms of discipleship it becomes easier for us to think in terms beyond just giving of our financial resources. One of the main things I hope you take away from the series on discipleship is an understanding that Christianity is a whole life endeavor. It is about all that we are. God wants all of us, not just our money, that is too easy, that is too cheap. God wants our money (which He has given us), God wants our abilities (which He has given us), and God wants our time (which He has given us). God wants our lives which He has redeemed by the precious blood of Christ that they might be poured out for His glory. A life given wholly to God is what we were created for. That is stewardship! That is discipleship! That is a life worth living!
Let us go a step further. Let us come back to the thought of “seasons.” For FRPC this time of year is the season for the Mission Conference. Why do we have a mission conference? We have a mission conference in order to maintain our mission focus. That is who we are as a people. We are Christians and Christianity is a missionary religion. Taking the Gospel to those who don't know Jesus yet is something that never goes out of season. It is a vital part of the life of a disciple. We carry forth the Gospel to a dark world as we support our missionaries with prayer and finances. We carry forth the Gospel to a dying world as we live lives of discipleship, showing ourselves to be Christians in the way we think, speak and act. Let us walk together with Jesus and be His disciples for His glory and our good in every season of our lives. That is a life of stewardship for God, which is a life well spent.