Last week on January 26, a quote by Richard Foster appeared in an email from Emergent Village called minEmergent. Foster has written many books. Two that I have personally appreciated, Celebration of Discipline and The Freedom of Simplicity. His writings, especially Celebration of Discipline have focused on the classic spiritual disciplines that help us grow spiritually. This particular quote had to do with stewardship.
The headline was “Priorities and Ownership.” He wrote:
“God’s ownership of everything also changes the kind of question we ask in giving. Rather than ‘How much of my money should I give to God?’ we learn to ask ‘How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?’ The difference between these two questions is of monumental proportions.”
The sub-text asked the question, “How does your view of ownership impact your giving habits? “
Part of why I give is that ownership question. I must say that thinking about the things at my disposal as God’s things that have been entrusted to me for management is a different way of thinking about what of mine I am willing to share with God. That is a form of spiritually mature and correct thinking.
It reminds me of a stewardship story of a dad who had taken his child out to McDonald’s for a dad/child time together. He ordered and paid for a coke for himself and fries and drink for the little one. Once they sat down, the father reached over to sample one of his child’s fries. In a loud voice the child said, “Leave those fries alone, they’re MINE!” Most of us can imagine that scenario and we can also imagine the reaction we’d have—anger or indignation. But ultimately we would understand that the child’s reaction was from immaturity; a world-view that is tiny and self-centered. Most of us as parents would look for teaching opportunities to help that child grow up and learn to share and be grateful. Often our attitudes regarding stewardship result from that same kind of immaturity.
A second reason I give is that I believe it affects my soul. I also am coming to the conclusion that it affects other parts of my life as well. If faith is true should it not have an effect on our lives in a positive manner? An article appeared in USA Today in December about giving—actually tithing. That article suggested that research has shown that those who are committed to tithing have a discernable difference in their approach to life and their happiness. Tithers are more at peace with the world and happier. I find it both interesting and comforting that when we really delve into the topic, we can see that the ways God calls us to live are not just legalities, but designs for our well-being. He is not just requiring what we might call a tax or ‘pound of flesh’ but He prescribes how it is best for us to live. This is true not only for our giving, but in our forgiving, our being connected to Him in worship, etc., etc.
As you contemplate your spiritual life and your soul, don’t forget to ask, “How is my giving affecting my soul?”