This past Sunday, I was asked to preach at one of the churches in our district. It was the first church I preached at when I was elected District Superintendent 9 years ago. It was a joy for us to be a part of the church service in North Vernon, Indiana. Pastor Caleb Reynolds is doing an outstanding job. He told me that he was in a series on stewardship, and would I mind preaching on the subject when I came for my visit? Endeavoring to be cooperative, I said yes, and then felt led by the Lord to preach from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.
Stewardship is a part of life. We think we own things, but I have never seen a U-Haul trailer attached to a hearse at the cemetery. I am not against owning things, but there can certainly develop an inordinate fascination with the accumulation of stuff. There are times when it seems rather than owning things that they, in fact, own us! In my part of the world, many homes have basements. Go into most basements, and you will find they are jammed full of “stuff.” If the house has an attic, you will see the same thing, the attic is full of more “stuff.” I have read that fully 70% of people cannot park their cars in their garages and must park on the driveway. The reason? The garage is filled with even more “stuff.” As a matter of fact, after filling every available amount of space at home, some go out and rent storage sheds to house more “stuff.”
The reason we may be instinctively uncomfortable with the idea of stewardship is that we have gone all-in regarding an owning/consuming culture that seems to measure worth by possesions.
Paul is describing in 2 Corinthians 9 a principle: that generosity is shown in our daily actions. It is a much broader subject than finances alone. Are we generous with our time, our concern, our desire to help, and so forth? Again, hear the words “sow sparingly, reap sparingly, sow generously, reap generously.” The best way to have friends is not to sit around and complain that you do not have any friends. The best way to have friends is to be a friend to those around you. In other words: “Sow sparingly, read sparingly, sow generously, reap generously.”
Each of us has been on the receiving end of generosity. Someone invested in us, and we are better today because of that investment in our lives. We are blessed because of the generous and extravagant grace that God has showered upon us.
We cannot even understand or fully appreciate all the ways that grace has been manifested in our lives. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” Paul gives us a timely reminder; the reason we should be generous is not that we can pay God back for His gracious work in our lives. Paul is saying there is no other appropriate response to what God has done, than for us to live our lives as a loving expression of his generosity.
As you go through your day, remember His grace and allow it to be the catalyst that compels you to “sow generously” into a world that is, at times, stingy and mean-spirited. Grace-filled people remember to display the love and compassion of our Heavenly Father.