We don’t like to talk about money or stewardship in most churches. This is supposed to be secret and untouchable topic, like sex and what happens in Las Vegas. When we do talk about it often we do so in the form of a desperate plea to fulfill an annual budget. We need to rebuild stewardship from the ground up.
Stewardship is about much more than giving to the church. Stewardship is the acknowledgement that everything we have is from God and that we are merely taking care of it temporarily. We give to the church because we are acknowledging that all we have comes from God. We set aside part of our lives to show that God owns all of it. A tithe (or 10%) is given as a guideline for doing this with our money.
We steward all kinds of things- money, time, gifts, people, jobs, churches… But there is something different about money. Jesus said it this way-
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV)
We normally talk about this verse and say something like, “If I could see your checkbook I could see into your heart.” While that may be true, that is not what Jesus is saying. That saying is assuming that your money follows your heart. But Jesus said that your heart follows your money.
There goes your money, your heart follows.
Of all the things you steward, your heart only follows your money. You can spend a lot of time on something and never put your heart in it. You can be very good at something and never love it. But try to spend money on something without putting your heart in it. If you buy a new car then suddenly you love driving. Buy a new house and you want to have everyone over.
Jesus does not need your money. But he desperately wants your heart. Jesus knows that the key to having your heart is through your money.
This is why the church cannot ignore stewardship issues. Much more is at stake then the financial viability of institutional church. People’s hearts are on the line.