Stewardship as Worship
Today’s gospel lesson is a parallel verse to Matthew 22:39 where Jesus is asked the question of which is the greatest commandment:
2nd Scripture Reading: Luke 10:25-27
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 25:14, 19-21
14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Review the main points… what stewardship is:
Stewardship is about trust… God trusting us more than our trust in God… God entrusts us with the most valuable gift imaginable—himself through faith in Jesus
Stewardship is about meeting our most fundamental need… a restored relationship with God… stewardship is a way that God transforms us into the character and nature of Jesus
Stewardship frees us… from the things that separate us from God (greed, fear, worry, etc.)
Stewardship is about investing in what is important to God… God’s creative purpose…
redemption of creation… so
Stewardship is primarily about people not money… it’s about relationships… God entrusts himself to us so that we can share him with others
Discipleship is stewardship of the life of Jesus that God entrusts to us… by each of us sharing in the process and investing that gift in each other we help one another grow into the character and nature of Jesus.
Evangelism is stewardship of the message of God’s love in Jesus, that God entrusts us to share with the un-churched and the marginally churched.
Membership is stewardship of God entrusting us with each other as the church… it is as the church… the body of Christ… that we are called to live out our lives of faith
Mission is stewardship of the service that God has entrusted us to engage in as we invest in tangible ways the love of Jesus that God has entrusted us with.
This week we have worship as an expression of stewardship… and what I hope to make clear is that worship is so much more than just another purpose we have as Jesus’ church.
Define worship… as it is described so often in the psalms… worship is bringing God pleasure… it is whatever makes God smile
Doing whatever we do to glorify God… to please God
Peterson’s The Message of Romans 12 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Worship is what we do here on Sunday mornings but it can and should be what we do every moment of our lives… That is one of the messages of the New Testament and it finds it’s origin in the Old Testament… in fact Jesus references one of the key passages from the Old Testament when asked when asked about the greatest commandment and the key to receiving eternal life… "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
What that tells me is that when we worship we are to 1) respond to God’s love with all of who we are and all of what we have been entrusted with… and 2) it’s to be directed toward God and other human beings… And by all here I’m talking about an attitude that holds nothing back… nothing of our time, our energy, our talents, our personality, our financial resources... it all needs to be on the table and available to used by God.
This attitude is important because it demonstrates our desire for God and God’s desire to be the most important thing in our lives. Why is this important? Because; anything that is allowed to come between us and God is an idol.
The Bible talks a lot about not wanting us to be double-minded, meaning, that’s where we try to have two incompatible ideas, attitudes, lifestyles at the same time. What it is really, is a form of rationalization… we try to talk ourselves into believing that we can do both, when we know deep down inside that we can’t give both equal importance… there is always going to be a pull towards the one that focuses more on what’s in it for us… our self-centeredness… as opposed to what’s in it for God or other-centeredness or God centeredness. The self-centered focus becomes an obstacle to our relationship with God as well as what God wants to do through us.
But it’s not like the other things in our life are always bad… it’s really just the opposite… often they’re things that are good and even necessary to spend time on. Work… family… leisure. Each of these, and so many different expressions of these, require time and energy and have a financial component… they are all part of our lives… of which our relationship with God is an important part. So the question becomes; how important? How much do we value one compared with the others. How we answer that question is an indicator of the maturity of our faith which is a demonstration of our level of trust in God—or who we identify with more.
And that’s the important question when we stop and think about living a life of worship… worship is where our relationship with God… the gift that God has entrusted us with… is THE starting point for everything we do and say… and provides the guidance we need when faced with choosing what to do and say…
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus, in response to the rich man’s question of what he must do to inherit eternal life (which is another way of asking how do I respond to the great gift of God’s love for me…) Jesus said in essence… follow the commandments and then to sell everything you own, give it to the poor and then follow me… the man was deeply grieved because he was extremely wealthy… This was an example of what Jesus spoke of earlier when he said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon or money”
Remember from last week what Jesus said to his disciples from the gospel of John… if you love me you will obey my commandments…
God wants us to love… to love God with everything we are… because that’s what God has entrusted us with… everything that we are… and when we put our best effort into doing just that we make God smile… we bring pleasure to God… we are worshipping… we are taking the gift that God has trusted us with and investing it in situations, in lives, in relationships that are important to God…
When we respond in that way we experience such freedom… because we are free… we’re free from the selfish thoughts that sometimes rule our attitudes and actions… that’s what’s behind the old proverb… it’s better to give than receive… because in the giving we are freed from what might be holding us back in our relationship with God AND we receive so much more… we grow closer to God…
I want you to think about a time when you were moved to do something totally and solely for someone else… remember how you felt… the rush of satisfaction and pride… the joy! Where do you think that came from? What was that? I have a suggestion to consider… what we experienced didn’t originate from us… it was and is a gift… I believe that we received the gift of experiencing God smile…
God longs to be part of every moment of our lives… I’m the youngest of three brothers and I remember growing up as a kid… following my older brothers around… just wanting to be a part of what they did… really just wanting them to notice me and include me in what they were doing… to my shame as a parent there were times I would get annoyed at my kids for doing the same thing… and I wonder… is that how we treat God’s presence in our lives?
I started this message out by saying that I hoped to make clear that “worship” is more than just one of our purposes as a church… I want to add to that I feel the same way about discipleship, evangelism , membership, and mission…
Over the past five weeks we’ve been discovering the relationship between each of these and stewardship… that each is an expression of stewardship… that God has entrusted us with each of these as a way for us to grow closer to God, each other and the people in our daily lives… that each is something that we need to think about as something that we should be involved in daily…
I’d also want to encourage you think about what is involved with each from the perspective of worship… When we are being good stewards with all that God has entrusted us with by making use of the gifts of Discipleship… Evangelism… Membership… Mission… then we are living lives of worship…
Discipleship is stewardship of the life of Jesus that God entrusts to us… by each of us sharing in the process and investing that gift in each other we help one another grow into the character and nature of Jesus and that pleases God… it is an act of worship
Evangelism is stewardship of the message of God’s love in Jesus, that God entrusts us to share with the un-churched and the marginally churched… and that pleases God… it is an act of worship
Membership is stewardship of God entrusting us with each other as the church… it is as the church… the body of Christ… that we are called to live out our lives of faith… and that pleases God… it is an act of worship
Mission is stewardship of the service that God has entrusted us to engage in as we invest in tangible ways the love of Jesus that God has entrusted us with… and that pleases God… it is an act of worship
Stewardship is about investing what God has entrusted to us in what is important to God…
God entrusts himself to us so that we can share him with others… when we do that… it pleases God and it is an act of worship
As we continue to grow in doing these things we make God smile… and we can hear our master say… well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master…
My desire is for us as a church is experience God’s smile on a regular basis
So with that in mind…
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.