Contributing to our parish and the community as a greater whole means dedication of our time, talent and treasure. There are many means to serve our Lord and our parish and they are equally exemplary of our service to our community. We can dedicate our time, such as helping with services or during events. We can dedicate our talent and share some of the gifts that God has blessed us with to help our church. We can also share our work and our treasures to help meet the needs of the church. Please inquire within at the Church Office or any member of the Parish Council to help be part of our community. Only with everyone’s help can we grow!
Dedication of Our Time
Each of us have been given enough time to accomplish God’s purpose for us on this planet. The Scriptures exhort us to invest our time wisely, reminding us that God determines the length of our stay on earth. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Toward the end of his life, Moses prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
Time is our most valuable asset, but without a proper perspective, we will spend it foolishly. A biblical perspective on time involves several things:
- Life is brief, and we cannot be presumptuous about the future (Jas. 4:14).
- The eternal gives meaning to the temporal (Rom. 13:11; 2 Cor. 4:18).
- Like other assets, our time is owned by God (Ps. 31:15).
- We must be sensitive to opportunities so that we can make the most of them (Eccles. 8:5; Col. 4:5). (5)
Our use of time will reflect our priorities (Matt. 6:19-21,34). Just as it is wise to budget our financial resources (see below), it is also wise to budget our use of time. Most time is wasted not in hours, but in minutes. If we do not regularly assess the way we spend our 168 hours per week, our schedules will get cluttered with activities that may be good, but not the best. How much quality time do we spend with the Lord, with our spouse, with our children, and with our non-Christian friends? God wants us to be faithful stewards, not squanderers, of the time He has given us.
Dedication of Our Talent
We have seen that stewardship in the Scriptures always relates to the management of something that does not belong to us, but to someone else. Even our talents and special abilities belong to God. We own nothing that was not first given to us: “And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). God has entrusted us with aptitudes and abilities, and as good stewards, we must use them for His glory and not our own. This is true not only of musical, artistic, athletic, academic, business, and persuasive talents, but also of the spiritual gifts we have received. “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly” (Rom. 12:6). Peter specifically relates spiritual gifts to the concept of stewardship: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10).
Faithful stewardship of natural talents and spiritual gifts requires that we use them to glorify God and edify others. Our purpose is not to please ourselves, but to serve others. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself” (Rom. 15:2-3a). Paul adds in Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Another aspect of good stewardship is that we learn to concentrate on the things we can do well and not worry about the things we cannot do. Our calling is to be trustworthy with what we have been given, and not to envy or covet another person’s abilities or ministry. Our abilities come from God (see Exod. 31:1-3,6; 35:35; Dan. 1:17; Eph. 4:7; 1 Tim. 4:14-15), and He has equipped us to fulfill the purpose for which He has called us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Each of us has an arena of influence, whether large or small, and a specific ministry that the Lord has placed in our care. “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1; cf. Col. 1:25; Titus 1:7a). Regardless of what we have been given, every stewardship is tested by the same standard: faithfulness. It is not the size of our ministry that counts, but what we do with what we have been entrusted.
Dedication of Our Work
Our stewardship of time and talent is directly related to the way we approach our occupations. Problems like low wages, job insecurity, boredom, and strained relationships give most people a feeling of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment in their work. Because of these frustrations, they may work as little as possible or simply endure their jobs, living for the end of the day and the weekend. Others swing to the opposite extreme and make their work all-consuming. Like workaholics who say, “Thank God it’s Monday,” they sacrifice their spiritual or family life on the altar of their career.
The biblical perspective of work can help us avoid these extremes and give us a sense of purpose and satisfaction even when outward circumstances look bad. Here are some of the important scriptural principles that relate to your work:
- There is real value in honest work. Creative work was part of man’s original purpose; it did not begin as a result of the fall (Gen. 2:5,15). The entrance of sin changed the character of work (Gen. 3:17-19), but it is still more of a blessing than a bane because it develops our potential and provides a creative and productive outlet for us as people made in the image of God. The dignity in work is seen in the fact that it reflects God’s work in creation (Exod. 20:9-11). In addition, there is no biblical warrant for placing mental work in a higher category than manual work–the God-Man Himself was a carpenter. “The New Testament does not support any social approach which makes it impossible for someone to have pride in his work” (Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology). The concept of work is related not only to creation but also to redemption. Christ labored to accomplish our salvation (see Luke 22:44; John 4:34; 5:17; 9:4; 17:4). Because of His redemptive work, we can experience the true freedom which comes from being His servants. We can bear fruit in every good work (Col. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 2:17; 2 Tim. 2:21) through His power which works within us (Col. 1:29; cf. Eph. 2:10; 3:20; Phil. 2:13; 1 Thess. 1:3).
- Work is a God-ordained means of providing for our own physical needs and those of others. “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Eph. 4:28).
- Our identity is not determined by our work but by our position in Christ. Many people define themselves in terms of their job and their performance. This is a mistake, because the Scriptures tell us that who we are is more fundamental than what we do. It is the former which should give meaning to the latter, and not vice-versa. “Unless you shape your work, your work will shape you” (Udo Middleman, Pro-Existence).
- God expects us to work hard, but not to overwork. While slothfulness is condemned in both testaments, it is just as wrong to get so wrapped up in our work that we lose sight of our highest priority to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).
- Our vocations are a major part of our ministries. All work, whether “secular” or “Christian,” should be done to the glory of God. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24; see Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 10:31). The attitude of working for God rather than for men can make us better stewards of our time and efforts at work. It can overcome the anger and bitterness that comes from working under people who treat us unfairly. “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly” (1 Pet. 2:18-19). Employees are responsible to render service as unto the Lord and to be obedient and faithful in the use of company time (see 1 Tim. 6:1-2). Employers are responsible to treat their people with respect and equity, to pay them a fair wage, and to be sensitive to their needs (see Lev. 19:13; Col. 4:1). Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him (Eph. 6:5-9). Through our work, we can become stewards of God and servants of our neighbors. In this way, the spiritual dimension is added to the secular; by the grace of God, human tasks take on a new value. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:17).
- Because we are answerable to God, we should strive for excellence in our work (Gal. 6:4). We should seek to become skillful craftsmen at what we do. God is more concerned with quality than quantity, and it is better to do a few things with excellence than many things with mediocrity.
Dedication of Our Treasure
In addition to our resources of time and talent, we have been entrusted with the stewardship of various treasures including our bodies (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), our minds (Rom. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:13), and our opportunities (Col. 4:5). When it comes to governing our financial affairs, we must choose between two radically different approaches: the values of our society, or the values of the Bible. The first alternative tells us to find happiness and peace through money; the second tells us to find the desire of our hearts in the Lord and to be content with what He gives us. Money is a good servant but a bad master–if we follow the world’s wisdom, money will dominate us, but if we submit to “the wisdom from above” (Jas. 3:17), money will serve us as we use it to serve God and others. While the Bible has about 500 verses on prayer and fewer than 500 verses on faith, there are over 2,300 biblical verses that deal with money and possessions. Without apology, our Lord said more about money than He did about any other subject, including heaven and hell put together. Over 10 percent of the New Testament relates directly to financial matters. Why is there such an emphasis? One reason is that God knew we would have trouble managing our money, and that we would spend a great amount of time earning, spending, and investing it. A second reason is that money has a profound effect on interpersonal relationships. Many people spend more than half their time thinking about money, and financial difficulties are a major cause of marital conflict and divorce. A third reason is that the way we use our money is a real measure of our commitment to Christ. Scripture relates money to the love of God: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).
We can assume an appearance of spirituality in prayer, Christian service, and Bible knowledge, but we cannot fake the way we use our money and possessions. Our wallet reveals more about our character and walk with the Lord than we may think. Financial freedom should be a part of our new life in Christ, and the wise person seeks the timely practice of timeless principles in this vital area. We will look at the biblical guidelines concerning the proper attitudes toward money (ownership, priorities, contentment), and the proper actions with money (responsibilities, giving, borrowing, budgeting, saving, communicating).