March 2019   
Bible Search
July 2015 - "Oh, A Stewardship Sermon"

“Oh, A Stewardship Sermon”

            When the congregational finances get a bit tight and bills start to get unpaid, that’s when the old “stewardship sermon” is expected to show up.  Actually, we speak of true whole-life stewardship fairly regularly – the idea and understanding that everything we have has been given to us by God and in turn and in thanksgiving we are to use all of those resources generously in the service of our neighbor (which includes family, neighbors, the needy, and yes the support of God’s Word in the congregation and beyond).  But, I did run into an old sermon written by a brother pastor around 14 years ago that I thought I could share a few of his thoughts.

            Now, every pastor knows how to sing the "Stewardship Song" and every congregation already knows all about the old cliché about making good use of "Time, Talents and Treasures." Every stewardship sermon always takes pains to do two things: to admonish those who can give more to do so, but at the same time to assure those who already giving all that they can give that

they need NOT worry about doing more...

Two sentences will summarize our situation here at Grace, and indeed, in many of the Church's congregations: 1) This congregation has ongoing financial needs in doing its ongoing work of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. 2) Just get the job done! Or, as St. Paul says, "Share with God's people who are in need" (Romans 12:13; see also 2 Corinthians 9:12).

As your pastor, I cannot be concerned with how much you make, so long as your bodily needs are met. I am even less interested in how much you give to the Church, even though your giving is what God uses to keep the lights on. At the risk of disappointing the Voters' Assembly, I will even go so far as to say that I do not care whether you give one more penny to this congregation or to its labors in the Gospel for the rest of your life!

What I care about is that you learn to love your neighbor more than you love yourself; that you learn to regard your material possessions as nothing more than a tool that God has given you in order that you may love your neighbor as he needs to be loved; that you learn that your possessions are useless to you, to God, and to your neighbor UNLESS you devote them to God's

service and your neighbor's well-being. What I care about is that you look at your material possessions, and while looking at them, that you learn how to show mercy.

Jesus says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). He says, "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do good. and lend. without expecting to get anything back" (Luke 6:30, 35). Jesus says, "Become merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).And St. James adds, "Judgment without will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).

            What is truly important to the Christian: not material wealth, but the Christian's relationship with his neighbor, the Christian's reputation as being gracious and merciful, and his neighbor's need.  When you understand that, the entire topic of stewardship falls squarely into place. You stop wondering, "How much must I give?" and you start wondering, "What does my neighbor need, and what can I do toward filling that need?" You stop thinking of Christian giving as an obligation that you dislike, and you start looking at it as the one of the best chances you will probably get in this life to show undeserved mercy toward your neighbor.

Then rejoice in your acts of mercy, not because you do them but because God has enabled you to do them through the forgiveness of your sins! St. Peter writes, "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:10).

Your ability to use your possessions in showing mercy does not come from yourself, but it comes from the God who is the giver of all good things (James 1:17). Your love for God and your love for your neighbor arise only out of the love that God first showed to you (1 John 4:19) in the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son. Therefore, if you are able to show mercy, it

is because your God in Christ has enabled it. The fact that you now can show mercy is evidence that He has begun His work in you: giving you the gift of faith, forgiving your sins, cleansing your conscience, and producing in you the fruit of faith. Let your acts of mercy point continually you back to the one act of mercy that God carried out for you, that in Christ you are blessed, for you have been shown mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Pastor Reiser

Contents © 2019 St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church | Church Website Provided by | Privacy Policy