Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Story- Stewardship vs the Tithe

I know, I know- stewardship & tithing: 2 very unpopular topics. But I wanted to share my story and what I've recently become passionate about.

I don't remember much formal teaching from my parents regarding tithing (which is surprising given that my dad has been the church treasurer for as long as I can remember). I know it was a concept that was highly modeled for me, though. Whenever I started tithing, I remember that it honestly was with the motive that if I did so, God would bless me (or at least, if I didn't He might withhold his blessing). Then it changed to something I merely did because I "should", and I enjoyed the tax incentive at the end of the year. But still in my thinking, all our finances were still just 10% God's, 90% ours to do with as we pleased.

In the past few years, however, my husband and I worked so hard to set aside some money. We watched our savings account slowly grow and I became so proud of us- proud of what we had earned, what we had saved, the amount we had amassed solely on our own. Then came illness, a hospital stay, medical procedures and a mailbox flooded with medical bills. And I watched that amount that I was so proud of - the tangible pinacle of self-reliance and ownership quickly deplete.

And I realized at that moment why stewardship is the model God created. We aren't ever owners of our money. And there is no such thing as self-reliance. Instead, we're stewards, entrusted with the money by God to be used in ways that glorify him. It's not that 10% is God's, it's all God's.

And suddenly, seeing that money go towards medical bills wasn't as painful because I realized that it was never mine to dictate anyways. God had provided it and He would be faithful to provide for our needs again. And I try to remember that I don't need to worry about it, nor do I need to feel prideful. It's just the completely freeing trust of being the middle-man- the steward of God's resources to His Kingdom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Start

I've been playing around for a while with the idea of blogging again about some ideas that I've been very passionate about lately - namely: stewardship & simplicity - I think in an effort to try to sort it all out myself.

I've been deeply convicted recently about the idea that we are not owners (despite all that our materialistic, ad-saturated culture tells us), but are merely stewards; middle-men. All our money, time, possessions are gifts from God and are never really ours to control. When I die, my house, my car, my furniture- all of it will still be here even though I'm gone. It's not really mine, I'm stewarding it for the time being.

So, the big questions forming in my mind these days (& warning: you won't find the answers here- I'm still searching for them myself) are: What does it mean to be a steward of my money, my house, my time, my talents? How can I best use all that I've been given to serve God's kingdom? And more importantly, how do I know the best way to serve God's kingdom?

One of the reasons I fell in love with the idea of simplicity and minimalism a few years ago, is because of its connection to the well-known quote, "Live simply, so that others may simply live." I'm so convicted by the fact that there are starving people all over the world today while I'm eating way more food than I'll ever need and stockpiling more possessions than I need. Are my superfluous purchases more important than a life?! Never. But how do I reconcile that with the culture we live in? And where do I draw the line?

Like I said, I don't pretend to have all the answers (maybe not even any of them). But I'm hoping to pop into this space with thoughts, quotes, or inspiration in these areas of simplicity & stewardship. Maybe you can help me find some answers... Maybe we can embark on this journey together...