Set Free to Give By Dr. Zenet Maramara
Are You Set Free to Give?
Joyful, generous stewards are set free to give and lead generous lives. Does that send
A most noble task of a development professional, besides hitting the annual fundraising goal is to multiply faithful, generous and joyful stewards. Steward theology teaches that a life that is fully- surrendered to the Lordship of Christ is a life of freedom and liberation from the bondage of material possessions.
I recently facilitated a focus group discussion (FGD) among 100+ year old church denominations to find out their training needs in teaching and practicing biblical stewardship, giving, and generosity. Everyone concurs that money is always a delicate issue and that some pastors hesitate to preach about giving for fear it might be construed as self-serving.
They were all on the same boat—there is not enough giving in the church. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, churches struggle financially. More so, now that many people lost their jobs, congregations are not meeting physically, and majority of the church members do not have access to online giving.
Interestingly, one of the stories shared during the FGD stood in contrast to their present financial predicament. One of them related the story of an older pastor of their church who discipled his congregation to give biblically and live out Christ’s generosity. Money was not a problem during his time because these church members freely gave and shared with everyone. These faithful stewards are now few in number as some passed on. The succeeding congregations were not taught biblical giving and generosity as part of discipleship.
Freedom to Give
According to theologian Charles Ringma,” generous giving, whatever form it may take, is a not a project or a special activity, rather it is the unfolding of the life of God in us.” Giving is something intrinsic in the person created in the image of God. But for the redeemed, generous giving, in whatever form it may take expresses the life of Jesus Christ in us, in smaller of lesser degree.
What hinders the steward to unravel the divine life into her own?
Our temporal treasures compete with our commitment to our calling as obedient stewards of God. The temptation to accumulate and hoard comes from the lie of the enemy that our sense of worth is measured by how much we have. Mark Vincent warns us of the god-like property of money that can usurp the place of the worship of God. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21).
The source of security for a steward is Christ. We can rely on God to supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ and he is able to provide more than we can think or imagine (Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20). The false security of wealth, money and possessions holds the Christian in bondage. Only when we place our security in God, who holds our future, can we experience true freedom. Generous giving then becomes a by-product of living our true identity as redeemed people of God, secure in his protection and provision.
Another thing that stood out for me during our FGD, was the state of some those denominational congregations that is stuck in the Old Testament stewardship. Their primary teaching on financial stewardship is focused on the tithes. The main instruction about stewardship centers on Malachi 3:10.
Tithing is just 10% of what the Bible teaches about money, wealth and possessions. Christian financial author, Howard Dayton notes that pastors ought to preach the rest of the 90% of what the Scripture teaches. Jesus taught more parables and discourses about material possessions than heaven and prayer combined. The New Testament is replete with teaching about spending, saving, not going into debt, investing, honest work, and training the next generation.
Tithing is merely an exercise for the followers of Christ to let go of a percentage of our income to train us to surrender everything to God. Our relationship with materials possessions is a barometer of our spirituality.
It is true, joyful, generous stewards are set free to give and lead generous lives. How about you?
Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder/president of Christian Stewardship Association and the chairman of Christians in Conservation, an A Rocha associated project. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at Asian Theological Seminary and former director of the ATS Strategic Leader Development. She organized and directed the MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management program of ATS.
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