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Circling the Square


Posted by Bill Lovell on

As 2018 draws to a close, many of us are making decisions about our end-of-year giving. With the church facing a significant shortfall (about $10,000), your financial support is very much needed and appreciated. But my blog this week isn't about your stewardship of money; it's about your stewardship of you—what I'll call, please forgive me, styouwardship—how you invest, not just your money, but your time, your energy, your passion, your prayers, your life. 

Styouwardship is a made-up word, as you probably recognized. It's a combination of "stewardship" and "you." Christians are used to hearing about stewardshipChristianese for the offerings we give to the churchusually as a synonym for fundraising. But styouwardship is meant to point to something much deeper. It sums up what Paul says in Romans 12:1: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your true and proper worship." Styouwardship is about you, your offering, your body, your sacrifice, your worship.

Of course, how we spend our money is a part of styouwardship and a pretty good indicator of spiritual health. After all, money follows passion, and what we most care about we tend to spend money on. So if the IRS did an audit on my finances, the auditors would no doubt conclude very quickly that food, housing and transportation mean a lot to me, along with comfort, convenience, and entertainment. I suspect you're probably the same. But here's the question: Would the IRS also be able to conclude that the church—the gospel community—means a lot to me too?

But money is not the best, let alone the only, indicator of what the gospel means to us. In fact, writing a check or making a payment online is much easier than sharing our faith with a friend or caring for someone in need or performing a difficult, time-consuming task that simply needs to be done. Styouwardship requires each us to roll up our  sleeves and get our hands dirty in the messy business of following Jesus and loving others in his name. That is the offering that is, in the words of Romans 12:1, "holy and pleasing to God."

Yes, the church’s current budget situation will be helped if you give a little extra in the collection between now and Dec 30. The Session and I will be very grateful if you do. But by far the most important thing you can offer the Lord, in response to all that he has done for us in Christ, is your repentant life, your obedient will, and your grateful heart! Wishing you a happy Advent, a merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year in Christ!