Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
November is typically the month devoted to the theme of stewardship. I offer an introductory reflection and a brief discussion on the stewardship of time…Blessed Thanksgiving to All! +Fr. Rick
Stewardship is about a way of life. Stewardship is not merely about money. All things are from God. As stewards/oikonomoi we are caretakers of the blessings God bestows upon us. Part of stewardship is taking care of Jesus Christ’s ministry through God’s Holy Church. We are entrusted with not just preserving but building up the ministry of Christ.
We are created in the image and likeness of God. We fulfill the image by accepting the responsibility of being a steward. Returning a tithe of God’s gift of time, talent and treasure is an expression of thanksgiving and glorification. In the Divine Liturgy, the priest exclaims “We offer to You these Gifts, from Your own Gifts, in all and for all.”
Stewardship of Time
God is the author and creator of time!
When we were young, time took forever. As children, we thought summer used to take a long time? At ten years old, turning 40 seemed like an eternity away. As we grow older, time seems to fly by more and more quickly. What happened ten years ago, seems like yesterday.
The point is that earthly time is a precious gift from God. Thus, we must use it to prepare ourselves for the heavenly time of eternity in the Kingdom. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3).
Therefore, we must be productive and not waste time. It is a matter of salvation. We will be judged on how we use our time. Consider Christ’s Parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25, and of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16).
We must be careful. For once it is gone time can never be reclaimed. We are to offer not only a part, but our whole life to God. We repeatedly petition the Lord in worship, Let us commit ourselves, one another and our whole life to Christ our God. Thus, Stewardship of Time is also a commitment.
How can we return our time to God in thanksgiving? We might think immediately of all the items listed on the Stewardship Pledge Card. However, we first must remember the most foundational activities including a) Daily Prayer, b) Reading of Scripture, c) Worship on Sundays and other days, and d) Spiritual Reading.
We must put God first in our lives. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?…33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. (Matthew 6).
We must give God our time freely and with a generous heart. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him; because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. (Deuteronomy 15:10)
We must store up treasures in heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed. (1Timothy 6:17-19)
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)
Some say, “Father, I just am too busy with work, with my family, with school. I’d like to come to church but I just don’t have time.” We must heed the warnings of the Lord and wake up from our spiritual lethargy. The busyness that we allow to invade our life, causes us to be lazy in our spiritual life.
“32 Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:32-39)
Self-Denial is absolutely necessary to follow God. 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
Taking up of the Cross in Holy Baptism is just the beginning of the life in Christ. Stewardship is a choice, and we have the free will to choose good over evil, or to choose evil over good. Jesus said to His disciples: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)