My reasons for practicing stewardship are unusual and demand a bit of explanation, though I believe they are all thoroughly biblical: 1) because it’s easy, 2) because I feel like it, 3) because it gives me pleasure, 4) because I’m greedy, and 5) because God doesn’t need my money anyway. Please bear with me; it will take me five weeks just to explain what I mean. This week will only allow us a look at the first of these five reasons: because it’s easy.
Writing a check to the church is easier for me than being broken over my sin, spending quality time with the lonely, listening for long hours while someone entrusts me with their life “issues,” giving my life to serve the poor, spending hours pouring out sincere prayers to God on behalf of others, expending energy in the church’s behind-the-scenes manual labor, being satisfied in my singleness, keeping my mind and intentions pure, joyfully suffering ridicule and social persecution for being bold with my faith around unbelievers, or just being honest with myself and others whenever I am experiencing a time of spiritual drought or struggling with embarrassing sins.
When I compare material surrender to other types of internal surrender, I find financial stewardship to be easier than those more important parts of the Christian life. It would be easy for me to deceive myself by thinking that as long as I am in the pew on Sundays and regularly giving a mere ten percent that I have been a faithful Christian. In reality, tithing and church attendance are more peripheral components of the greater commandments of loving God and loving others.
The Pharisees faithfully attended worship at the temple and gave their tithe, yet instead of patting them on the back Jesus rebuked them by saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Mt 23:23).
Stewardship is just as applicable to time, energy and talent, as it is to money. My tithing alone should never be the basis for judging whether or not I have been a good steward of all God has given me. Our paradigm for stewardship should encompass everything—not just a meager ten percent of our finances.