Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
In addition to selling financial management programs, campaigns to position churches strategically in the community often include purveying other self-help programs. Series to promote healthy marriages, effective parenting, and stress management are multi-million dollar businesses marketed through churches which can be successful for increasing attendance; if only for the duration of the particular workshop. This is one reason why such series replicate. Once these types of services prove effective in drawing customers, they are sub-marketed to pastors as tools for church growth. With the exception of money management, these self-help series are predominately the works of psychologists who rely on psychological theory, and employ behavior modification techniques. Although they see themselves as performing valuable ministry services with these series, the pastors, elders, and small group leaders actually become stewards of false gospels according to men like Maslow, Jung, Skinner, and Freud. These men have either denied the authority of scripture, were openly hostile to the gospel, or were outright antichrists.
In examining what real Christian stewardship is, it has been pertinent to show by a few examples what stewardship is not. While by necessity much has been addressed to the misuse of the term in relation to extorting money, real Christian stewardship does include the assignment of value to resources and the responsibility to administer them within the body of Christ.
Any success obtained from these psycho series in mitigating or solving problems of living is superficial and of short duration, and this is why they must be repeated. Furthermore, due to the superficial nature and external aspect of supports, the techniques become stale and turn to clichs as people grow tired of manipulating, and being manipulated. For this reason, new psycho series with new terms, and even new languages, must constantly be contrived and marked: psychology is incapable of permanently solving your problems. While it is just as true that Christians must continually return to the Bible, the word of God is sure and does not require to be reinvented, or continually updated, or repackaged. Larger than this: should we seek out those to spoil us “though philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men”(Col. 2:8), or adhere to the word of God so as to be perfected after the manner of Christ?
In examining what real Christian stewardship is it has been pertinent to show by a few examples what stewardship is not. While by necessity much has been addressed to the misuse of the term in relation to extorting money, real Christian stewardship does include the assignment of value to resources and the responsibility to administer them within the body of Christ. Firstly, to the pastor or teacher, or other such minister: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal 6:6). The word “communicate” means to share, and good things are those thing that are useful and beneficial, and would be substantive and include financial support. While there is no percentage attached to an amount to be shared, which could unnecessarily limit this communication, the word “all” is attached; emphasizing that all of our resources are in our stewardship as is in our power to communicate. Some will have more of one kind of good resource than they do another in their power to share. Yet, true Christian stewardship will produce a heart that is willing to give “beyond their power”(2 Cor. 8:3), and this is where a good series on Christian stewardship will teach that good stewardship encompasses restraint. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2Co 8:12; emphasis added). There, too, is something regarding our first having a willing mind that we should give pause to briefly, and delicately.
God knows the desire of our hearts. He knows who loves Him. There will be times in every sincere Christian’s life when their heart aches to support or take part in some work for the Lord, and for reasons unbeknownst to them they lack the means or opportunity, and they are prevented. Some may begin to feel that God is not considering them, or even that He does not count them as worthy for His use and has set them aside. What sayest the scriptures? King David desired to build a house for God, but God would not allow him; instead, He marvelously blessed
It is a very sad fact, however, that misuses will occur, and this is why we seek the whole counsel of God. While, many do error on the side of emotional appeals, stirring up the love of tender hearts and then shamelessly prodding them to continually sacrifice beyond their means, others will seize on this component of the willing heart, and turn it into a license for some metaphysical economy to excuse themselves from the performing of stewardship. A stewardship series must be taught that both comforts the afflicted, and precludes allowing the comfortable to drift into deception. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8). There will always be those who will use liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but we dare not, for this reason, abandon liberty altogether. Christian stewardship is derived from Christian doctrine, and it is stewardship that presses on in the faith. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9).
In addition to communicating good things to those who teach, we are to care for the needs of the saints. There are many large buildings today that stand like edifices to lost opportunities to minister sustenance to brothers and sister in the Lord. It is not enough to have the church food pantry, or the church office to apply to. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10; emphasis added). We are an “us,” a living body of many members. If we are to experience fellowship on a high plane, we must also be available to minister in the basics necessities. The whole body of Christ is to nourish itself, under its head which is Christ: “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:16). For those seeking an “authentic” portrayal of a church, this description should go a long way. Notice the stewardship of this ministry depends on the individual abilities of each member; there is no prescribed, set percentage, or sum for this grace. Interestingly, there is a capital case point made on this subject by Saul and Barnabus who had been preaching and teaching in
And in these days came prophets from
Jerusalemunto . And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Antioch Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
This drought was to be a real life or death situation for many in the household of faith requiring the most stringent outpouring of relief. None other than Paul (then Saul), expert on the law and biblical standards for giving, oversees the collection and carries the relief himself to the brethren churches. Yet, none of his disciples, nor Paul himself, invokes the tithe; instead, every man gave according to his ability. Under those circumstances, the nature of the impending calamity, the integrity and fidelity of the relief workers; the effort certainly exceeded the Hebrew ordinance amount in supplying storehouses in
[i] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible,