Websites, interior lighting, exterior signs, building maintenance, pictures for church directories… Projects like these have increasingly occupied my time over the last several months. Too many times I have asked, “Do things like this really matter? Shouldn’t I be more focused on spiritual, rather than worldly, affairs? Will working on these things truly help to build God’s kingdom?” Perhaps you have asked the same questions, and if so, good! Such questions are necessary and profitable!
Here are the answers I have reached thus far…
Do projects like this really matter? Yes, they are important but are not our greatest concern(s).
Why are they important? One word – stewardship. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines stewardship as “utilising and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.” God has blessed Covenant Presbyterian Church with the financial stability to own, to expand, to maintain, and to improve its property and building. He has given CPC access to the internet and other technologies that can help in proclaiming the gospel. He has given CPC’s members different abilities, talents, experiences, and areas of expertise, all of which should be valued and utilized. To be faithful stewards of these resources, we as believers must consider how to manage, invest, and improve those things with which we have already been entrusted, whether personally or corporately. Not to do so is unfaithfulness to the Lord (Matt. 25:14-30). Nevertheless, none of us at CPC should view “projects” as mere methods to be exploited for strategic growth. Thinking strategically is by no means sinful, but we must ask whose strategy we are using – ours or the Lord’s? The Lord’s strategy calls us to be wise stewards, which means all resources we possess and all projects we undertake must be understood as gracious gifts and opportunities from God – received with thanksgiving, considered prayerfully, and managed prudently.
Shouldn’t we be more focused on spiritual, rather than worldly, affairs? Worldly affairs are never divorced from spiritual concerns.
How we handle day-to-day concerns in this world exposes our faithfulness in matters of eternal significance. Faithfulness is defined as being “steadfast, dedicated, dependable and worthy of trust” (Holman Bible Dictionary). In other words, faithfulness is, in a certain sense, spiritual stewardship. Good stewardship correlates to and flows from spiritual faithfulness. The two cannot be divorced; they go hand-in-hand; and faithful believers seek consistency in all areas of life. If we are faithful in spiritual matters – believing and obeying God’s word, engaging in God’s appointed means of grace, expressing joy and thanksgiving in all circumstances, and so on – will not good spiritual stewardship (faithfulness) also result in good material stewardship? If we strive to lead exemplary lives with regard to spiritual things, will we not also seek to conduct our worldly affairs with a spirit of excellence?
Will working on these things truly help to build God’s kingdom? God alone is faithful to build his kingdom; I must trust him to accomplish what I cannot while living in faithfulness to him.
So will our efforts (projects) be fruitful? Maybe…maybe not… God’s promises of blessing are attached to the activities he has chosen (means of grace), not to the projects we might prefer. I cannot guarantee that our efforts will result in greater spiritual vitality, more conversions, higher attendance, or more members. I cannot guarantee that processes or programs will produce predictable results or that financial investments will yield significant returns. Those outcomes are in the future, and who alone knows the future? (Yes, it was a rhetorical question!) All we can do is seek to be wise stewards with the material blessings we possess and to be faithful Christians by living according to God’s word. If we at CPC exhibit a consistency in those things and – here is the key – trust our Lord to provide the increase, we will do well in all things.
Consider last week’s sermon from Exodus. How did God sustain Israel in the wilderness? He consistently provided manna – bread from heaven – during Israel’s forty years in the wilderness. Israel was told to gather an omer of manna every day for each person and two omers the day before the Sabbath (material stewardship). Israel was told not to hoard manna, not to keep it overnight except for the night before the Sabbath, and not even to go out to gather on the Sabbath (spiritual faithfulness). In turn, what were these actions supposed to teach the people of Israel on a daily basis? Trust!!!
How Israel handled manna was supposed to be a testimony to the surrounding nations of Israel’s love for and devotion to the Lord. By displaying wise stewardship, faithfulness to God’s commands, and daily trust in the Lord ‘s provision – and all of this without complaining, grumbling, or worrying – Israel would inevitably “build God’s kingdom” by doing nothing more than bearing witness to his glory and grace through their ordinary, everyday activities. God would provide; Israel would enjoy his blessings as grateful, humble, and obedient servants; and God would lead Israel on precisely on the path he knew they needed.
Do not those principles apply to us at CPC as well? Obviously there are no biblical commands for websites, interior lighting, exterior signs, building maintenance, and pictures for church directories! Yet, even so, let us learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ who partook of manna in the wilderness. May we be wise stewards of material possessions and faithful, obedient servants in what God has commanded, always trusting our sovereign God to continue leading and providing, all for the sake of his glory and the building of his kingdom.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, thank you for trusting me as your pastor. I remain grateful for God’s kind providence in bringing my family and me to Covenant Presbyterian Church. May he grant all things to you according to his abundant riches in Christ Jesus!