Take a Break for Faith Podcast Transcript
Take Five for Faith monthly meditation podcast – Stewardship: a relationship of fidelity.
Welcome to your Take Five Monthly Meditation. This month’s theme is “Stewardship: A relationship of fidelity.” Let’s settle in with a story from a friend that illustrates our theme:
For many years in Kansas City at the holidays a "Secret Santa" sought out people who were down on their luck and quietly slipped them an envelope with a crisp $100 bill tucked inside. The recipients typically were astonished at this unmerited act of generosity. Many stood there with tears in their eyes, wondering what brought about this good fortune.
A few years ago, someone tracked down this Secret Santa and asked him, "Why do you do it?" It turns out the man is prosperous in business, but that wasn't always the case. Years ago, he was an out-of-work salesman who was reduced to living out of his car. One morning, when he hadn't eaten for two days, he walked into a diner in Houston, Mississippi. And though he had no money, he ordered a huge breakfast and ate every morsel. All the while he wondered nervously what he would do when it came time to pay.
When the check came, he fumbled around, pretending he'd lost his wallet. The owner of the diner had already sized him up, however, and came around the counter. He bent to the ground as if to pick something up and said, "Here, you must have dropped this." And he handed the man a $20 bill. The man never forgot this totally undeserved act of generosity and goodness. Now that he is prosperous, he makes a point of exercising good stewardship by “paying it forward” every holiday season.
Let’s move more deeply into our theme with a reflection on stewardship as a relationship of trust:
In the community of Christ we are sensitized in a whole new way to the meaning of the biblical word stewardship. The word steward means "a person who is over"—an overseer—and "one to whom something has been entrusted." And almost every English word ending in -ship implies some kind of relationship. Specifically, a person isn’t a steward of what they themselves own, but rather of something owned by another.
The biblical sense of stewardship, then, suggests that God is the owner and we are the overseers, the stewards. The biblical writers remind us repeatedly that God loves us so much that we have been appointed stewards of all that is precious in creation.
In biblical times, cattle were an important symbol of material wealth. If you wanted to measure someone's wealth you would ask, "How many cattle do you own?" And if you wanted to express your love for God you would bring one of your cattle to the temple as a sacrificial offering.
But God used the congregation's offerings to remind them that they were only stewards of all they possessed. God said, in effect, "These offerings you bring to the temple, these animals, I don’t need you to give them to me. They are already mine. They already belong to me, as do you and everything you think is yours. I have loaned it all to you, entrusted it to you. How you care for it is how you can show your love for me."
The cattle on a thousand hills are mine, says the Lord. The SUVs on a thousand highways are mine. The savings accounts in a thousand banks, the houses in a thousand cities. All of this is already mine, God says. “The earth, and everything in it, is mine,” says the Lord.
Good stewards never forget that God is the source of all they possess. They realize that the people and objects in their lives are given to them in trust. They care for them accordingly.
Although many people earnestly seek God, too often we tend to fill our lives with possessions and become dependent on them, to the point that they replace God at the center of our lives. Instead of falling into this trap, consider the story of Princess Eugenia of Sweden.
Some years ago she sold all of her diamonds and used the money to build a hospital for the poor. Once the hospital was functioning, a very sick woman was brought in from the streets. Her heart was filled with hate and rebellion, and her lips were filled with curses.
Nevertheless the hospital staff not only gave her excellent medical attention but also tender, loving personal care. After several days, those who came to her bedside could see a whole new attitude toward her illness and toward life beginning to emerge. Princess Eugenia went to the hospital and visited with the woman for a while. When the princess returned home, she said to her husband, "I have at last seen the glitter of my diamonds."
As we learn to apply the biblical teaching on stewardship to our lives, we can begin to see the glitter of our diamonds. That is the way it works for the person who grows "rich in the sight of God."
Let’s continue with a meditation that moves us forward:
When you hear the word stewardship in church, you might start bracing yourself for the appeal for money that usually follows! But good stewardship is about much more. It means being faithful to your relationship with the one who has entrusted you with all the riches in your life—your talents, health and energy, your loved ones and livelihood. Stewardship at root is a relationship of fidelity, of keeping trust with the One who has given you life. Are you ready to put your time, talent, and treasure in service to the gospel? If so, you, too, will you be called a good steward.
We close this month’s reflection with a scripture passage taken from First Peter: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
This concludes our Take Five Monthly Meditation, “Stewardship: A relationship of fidelity.” We hope you have found it of benefit and we welcome your comments and feedback. You can find us at TakeFiveforFaith.com or on Facebook. The music for this month’s podcast is by Philipp Weigl. The Take Five Monthly Meditation is produced by TrueQuest Communications with the help of ideaPort. Thank you for joining us this month and have a blessed day.