Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reflections for September 9, 2009

"Channels or Cul-de-sac?"

Most Christians would agree with the statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Despite what they say, statistics do not support their claim. Researchers have discovered that the number of people who give purposefully and regularly to their local place of worship is declining in all mainstream denominations. Stewardship sermons are often tolerated but seldom enjoyed, because people do not like to be reminded that they may not be living up to the Biblical mandate for stewardship.

We have come a long way since John Wesley said, “Get all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” Someone else has recently said that today’s church folks are better reflected in the statement, “Get all you can; can all you get; and sit on the lid.”

Our self indulgence is not limited to how we handle our money. It is also reflected in how we use our talents and time. The good steward does not see his treasures, talents and time as tools with which to build his own wealth and well being. Instead, he/she sees them as gifts given by God to assist in serving others and by serving others glorifying God. This concept of stewardship flies in the face of a society that seems to say,“First, look out for number one.”

In a sermon on biblical stewardship Rev. Paul Decker dealt with the conflict between “a me first mentality” and a biblical approach toward stewardship. He explained, “We are by nature, hoarders. We keep what we are given. The blessings come down our street, and stay there. We become like a “cul-de-sac”. There is nowhere else to go. But God has not designed us to be cul-de-sacs. He has designed us to be channels. We are to be continual conduits of God’s blessings. This is what He has designed us to be. So, the more we give, the more God will give us the ability to give. And God keeps giving, so that we will have enough, and abundance for others.”

Decker’s explanation leaves us with a choice. We can choose to be a cul-de-sac or a channel. By choosing to hoard our treasures, time and talents, we become a cul-de-sac. Our financial assets may grow to comfortable proportions; our calendars may be filled with activity; and our walls may be lined with plagues that remind us of how successful we have been. However, if our life has been all about our self and nothing about others, we will have accumulated little that will be to our credit in the life to come.

On the other hand, if we follow the mandates of scripture, we will become channels of God’s blessings. Our emphasis will not be upon self. It will be about using our blessings to encourage and assist others. Our focus will leave self and be transferred to others. We will become less concerned about what we have and more concerned about how we can use it for others.

God’s expectations are clear. Our choice is personal. Today, take time to look in the mirror. What do you see? Do you see a channel or a cul-de-sac?

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