To kick off 2019, we’re going to be doing a 4-week preaching series on stewardship. Here’s why…
The New Year can be quite a daunting time because we are supposed to do some self-reflection and come up with our new year’s ‘resolutions’ which will make the new year the best year yet! It’s a chance for a new you! I wonder how you feel as you approach 2019? What new ambitions do you have? Or what ambitions have wained that you want to renew? There is the classic list: gym, diet, career, relationships, hobbies, quitting bad habits, starting a year-long Bible-reading plan, ticking off bucket-list items etc., etc. None of these things are bad, but the onus is on us to ‘make it happen’ to ensure 2019 is a great year. As I said, a new year can be quite a daunting time.
On top of the need to ensure this new year is a great one, our culture places huge pressure on us to make sure we’re living the most exciting and fulfilled life possible and that we put all the pictures of this life on social media for others to see. We have to show others how impressive, successful, cool, relationally-connected and fulfilled we are. So, not only can we be daunted with all that we have to do in 2019 to fulfil our own ambitions, we can feel pressured by all that we are supposed to do to impress others. We have to be super-fit, super-cool, super-rich, have super-holidays, be super-capable and all the rest.
Wow! I am exhausted and burdened before I have even started!
He comes to us ready to take off the burden and change our perspective. Instead of listening to the voice of our culture, friends or family (or even our own voice), we can listen to His voice. And what does He say?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Come and find rest. Learn humility from Him, which takes away the burden and pressure on us. And do you remember what He famously said in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)?
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!
Notice that Jesus calls us His servants. And the parable is about how Jesus has entrusted each of us with different talents, treasures, time and privileges, and we are to steward those well. But stewarding them well does not mean we have to be ‘successful’, but faithful. The pressure is not on what we can achieve for ourselves or for the world around us, but whether we have been faithful with what we have been given.
At the start of this new year, 2019, we’re going to spend 4 weeks thinking about what it means to be stewards of what God has given us. Not for our own glory, ‘so that we may make a name for ourselves’ like the men that built the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4), but rather that we can make a name for Jesus, for His glory.
Once we know that we are not trying to achieve anything for our own glory, there is nothing for us to prove or earn. We will not feel so daunted or pressured, but instead, reflect on what God has given us and ask for His help to use what we have to glorify Him and bless others. The pressure is off us to achieve something great. Instead, the focus is on what we can do for Jesus with what He has given us. As Paul says in Colossians 3:23:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Over the course of this sermon series, we’re going to look at four things God has given us to steward:
- Our talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – what gifts has God given to us that we can utilise this year for His kingdom?
- Our Treasures (1 Chronicles 29) – what money and assets do we have that we can channel wisely?
- Our Time (Romans 12:1) – how can we learn a good balance of work and rest, so that we are neither ‘always busy’ nor ‘prone to laziness’?
- Our Privileges (2 Chronicles 1) – Each of us has certain privileges that we take for granted (we don’t even see them!). But we need to remember that God gives us privileges so we can help others.
Make it your ambition to live ‘a quiet life’
As I said at the start, we can often feel great pressure to achieve great things each year. We’re encouraged to have ambitions and believe the mantra that if we work hard enough we’ll achieve them. It can be quite exhausting and sets us up for either huge pride (if we achieve our ambitions) or devastating disappointment (if we fail to do so). The Apostle Paul, speaking to a church that was not using their time and resources wisely said this (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12):
make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Instead of thinking of all the great things we can do to change ourselves and change the world, Paul counsels us to make our ambition to live a quiet life, so that: (a) we win the respect of those around us, particularly non-believers, and (b) we’re not an avoidable drain on others (presuming upon the generosity of the church community).
So Paul says that we should try to make a quiet difference in the lives of the people around us: family, friends and colleagues. Phew! I can do that!
All the talks will be during our Sunday Gathering, which is at 4:15 pm at Synge Street Secondary School in Dublin 8.