Every effective organization—both secular and religious—has a mission statement. A mission statement is something that guides the activity of every member of the organization. This is true in the kingdom of God, too! As members of God’s kingdom, we have a mission to fulfill.
Jesus was very clear in regard to his own mission statement. He shared it openly in the synagogue one day: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, referencing Isaiah 61:1-2a).
It may seem odd, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor given the past economic downturn. Nonetheless, we are citizens of the kingdom. As such, we must take Jesus at his word and not only proclaim that the Lord’s favor is come but also take it to heart and live as if every day is one day in a year of the Lord’s favor—because it is!
As you worship today and throughout this week, think about your personal mission statement. How does it compare with Jesus’s words in Luke 4? How can you improve your witness as a generous and faithful steward through service to others?
We see generosity as part of our Creator’s nature very clearly in the scriptures: in the giving of food for humanity and the animals, in the giving of a land to God’s chosen people as their homeland, in the giving of good gifts and daily sustenance to those who ask. We experience God’s ultimate act of generosity in the giving of Jesus to live and die to save us.
As we are created in God’s image, it actually is against our natural instincts to be stingy. Most people, when presented with a real need and asked in a nice way for a contribution to a worthy project, are more than happy to give.
However, there are times when we do not give. Those are the times our fallen nature overtakes our inclination for generosity. Often this reluctance is tied to fear.
God was fearless in creation. We, like God, must be courageous in life, which includes generously sharing time, talent, and treasure.
As you worship today and throughout this week, think about times you hesitated to be generous. How often were they tied to fear? How is God calling you to creatively and courageously use the gifts you have been given?
Many people today are afraid to give because they fear that they will outlive their resources. A few years ago, an eighty-year-old woman with assets in the multimillion-dollar range was asked to make a six-figure gift to a ministry. She declined, stating that she did not want to make such a large commitment at her age because she did not know if she would outlive her financial assets.
Interestingly, the widow that Jesus speaks of in Luke 21:1-4 knew exactly how much she had to live on. We do not know her age, but we do know that she gave 100 percent of her financial assets. She knew doing so would immediately put her in a situation where she was then outliving her resources. But she gave anyway!
If we fear that we will outlive our resources, are we not making a
statement about our faith in God to care for us? Do we not trust the God whose eye is on the sparrow, who clothes the lilies of the field? Do we choose not to believe Jesus when he tells us not to worry? Do we dare take God at his word when challenged to bring the full tithe into the storehouse and see if God will not provide in abundance so much so that we will not have need? Do we really believe that Jesus came to give us life in abundance? Or not?
As you worship today and throughout this week, think about your relationship to God regarding trust. Are there areas of your life in which you need to increase your trust in God? Is your management of your finances one of them?
Investing our resources for the sake of the kingdom is risky. It takes courage. As we sow the seeds of our time, talent, and treasure, some will fall on deaf ears. Others will fall on ears which are somewhat receptive. And our resources will be sown in places where some will accept them and use them and benefit from them until the worldly attitudes of society creep up around them. We will be disappointed, frustrated, even ridiculed at times.
But thanks to God, sometimes our resources will be accepted by deep, receptive, productive people. Some will receive our investments of time, talent, and treasure and happily accept them and use them and benefit from them—and produce fruit for the kingdom because of our investments. And because of our willingness to seek out the best investments of our resources, the kingdom of God will have an unbelievable harvest.
How would you like to get a 30-, 60-, or 100-fold return on the seed you plant in your garden this spring? Better yet, how would you like to get a 30-, 60-, or 100-fold return on the investment you put in the bank? Yes, that’s a 3,000, 6,000 or 10,000 percent interest rate! It’s not possible to get such interest rates at the bank. But it is possible when it comes to the kingdom of God!
As you worship today and throughout this week, think about how God is calling you to sow seeds for the kingdom. Are you sowing with an attitude of defeatism or with resilience? Are you sowing haphazardly or with purpose?