Sobriety & Stewardship
It's Fall again and, like most churches, we are examining our 2008 giving to budget performance and looking at 2009. It did not help this weekend to see the crashing economic news about Lehman Brothers and AIG. I confess that I got a bit panicky, wondering if giving will remain strong at the church if a lot of people have their net worth tied to investment portfolios. We initially applauded ourselves for not buying real estate in California when the market began to slide, instead, investing it in a balanced fund. But that too is dropping along with everything else.
Then it hit me that stewardship is like sobriety: it's a day-by-day decision to trust God. The alcoholic lets the conditions around him/her determine drinking: got fired? drink. Got a raise? drink. Feeling blue? drink. Feeling happy? drink. Bored? Yes, drink. Exhausted? drink. Sobriety is a choice a person makes for right now and today. Today I will not drink. Today I will not get drunk. Today with God's help I will be sober. I have so many recovering friends who have taught me so much good theology in AA.
Stewardship works the same way. For those prone to not give, to not be generous, everything is a reason to not give. Got a raise? hold on to it. Got fired? hold on to what you have. Like the church? hold on to it. Dislike the sermon/music/youth program/etc. hold your money back till they perform better. If the markets are uncertain? better not give till things even out. If the markets are performing? Hold on to your money till they top out.
Stewardship and tithing is choice I make Sunday by Sunday, irrespective of the conditions surrounding me. I choose to give to God even, like the widow, when I feel like I have nothing to give. I choose to be generous even when it seems so little. Today I choose to give.