The market is up one day and down the next. Some analysts believe that the recession is nearing an end and others caution that the recession could linger for another year or two. How do you find personal and emotional stability in an unstable economy? The only way I know is by practicing the principles of Christian stewardship, and there are no shortcuts.
Christian stewardship is a pragmatic spiritual discipline…a management responsibility which applies to every facet of life. As believers and worshippers, we are accountable to God for how we exercise that managerial responsibility over all of our resources, especially our time, our spiritual gifts, our opportunities, and our finances.
Although Florida’s economy began to spiral downward in the aftermath of the sequential hurricanes in 2004-2005, the negative trends in Florida have been compounded by national growth in unemployment, a depressed housing market, a depreciating market, and global economic anxiety. Although we do not know how long these recession conditions will last, we do know that God’s economic guidelines bring stability during all of the seasons of life.
God’s plan for economics begins by calling us to a positive and proactive attitude toward managing. A primary step toward managing all of your God-given resources is to present the firstfruits, or the first tenth of your increase, as a tithe unto the Lord. The prophet Malachi probably has the most emphatic words to say about giving: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:8-10 NIV
In his book, Full Disclosure: Everything the Bible Says about Financial Giving, Dave Bell writes, Stewardship is not just an opportunity to enter into God’s service but an opportunity for God to enter into you. I believe that for those who dare to practice biblical stewardship, giving becomes a fun part of our management responsibility. Paul gives us a vivid description of a believer’s attitude toward God’s economic plan when he writes, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver ( II Corinthians 9:7 NIV).
Herb Mather, author of Don’t Shoot the Horse (Until You Know How to Drive the Tractor), proposes that “The vertical relationship to God and the horizontal relationship to neighbor come together in the act of giving.” In other words, that cheerful spirit of managing and appropriating our resources for kingdom purposes cultivates within us a passion for mission and ministry.
How do you begin, or continue, the practice of Christian stewardship?
- Understand that all resources are a trust from God.
- Prioritize your tithes and offerings.
- Provide for your family through careful management.
- Adopt a lifestyle of enjoying simple gifts.
- Be ethical and honest in all transactions.
- Limit credit liability and strive to eliminate debt.
- Invest in the future through a savings plan.
During these tough economic times God’s principles of stewardship can bring stability to our homes and our businesses, as well as the ministries of our church.