Christian Stewardship - Why is it Important?
Christian stewardship and Christian giving work hand in hand. Generosity is one of the primary ways in which Christians evidence the fruit of the Spirit at work in their lives. Yet a Christian who commits to giving as much as possible towards God's work, as soon as possible, faces a major challenge as a steward over God's resources. With a multitude of Christian ministries that could be supported, how does one choose just which ministries to support in order to make the most effective use of God's resources?
Christian Stewardship - How Do We Measure Success?
Christian stewardship requires some kind of success measurement. Living in a society that values results, most of us are inclined to support ministries that produce good tangible and visible results. Whether those results are measured in terms of how many people made professions of faith, how many Bibles were distributed, how many hungry were fed, how many students were educated or some other measure relevant to a particular ministry, they are the main standard by which most people judge a ministry. The better the results demonstrated by ministries we have supported, the more confident we feel that we have wisely exercised our stewardship responsibilities. Even the focus many of us place on financial efficiency, evaluating such criteria as the share of a ministry's budget devoted to fundraising and administrative expenses, is generally a focus on results, as a more financially efficient ministry should produce better results for each dollar contributed than a less financially efficient ministry.
In this website, we will attempt to show that such a results oriented decision process is not the emphasis the Scriptures would have for us. Rather, Scripture shows us that we should evaluate Christian ministries first and foremost based on their faithfulness and commitment to God's Word. Once we have judged a ministry to be spiritually faithful, we may consider secondary factors, among which financial integrity and need are most important. While we do not have to ignore results, only when these more critical areas have been examined should we consider results. Ordering our decision process in this way recognizes that: (1) God is responsible for the results of His servants; (2) God will ensure that the resources necessary for His work are distributed where He requires them; and (3) the visible results of faithful ministry may not be evident for years or even generations.
Christian Stewardship - Framework for Ministry Selection
Where do we begin with Christian stewardship? In many ways, investing a large sum of money is an easier task than giving a large sum of money. To begin with, since our potential investments will be in for-profit entities, we can evaluate them based on a tangible yardstick by which to measure results, namely earnings. Indeed, the collapse of many Internet businesses confirms that over time, investors will not fund a business without some realistic prospect of visible earnings. Furthermore, once we have invested, we can much more readily see whether we have done so wisely based on another tangible measure, namely our returns, than we can in the case of giving. Lastly, we can more clearly see whether an alternative investment would have been a better choice than the investments we actually made, than we can see whether an alternative ministry would have been a better choice to support than the ministry we actually supported.
Should tangible results be the most important criteria in selecting which Christian ministries to support or do the Scriptures suggest a different emphasis? In each of these three areas, selection, monitoring and comparison, what facilitates the decision process in investing is the presence of visible, concrete measures that form the basis of our evaluations. With Christian ministries, however, we do not have an equivalent basis for evaluation. The difficulty is not so much that results may be hard to see, although frequently this is the case. Rather, the difficulty is that results may not be what they appear, misleading us in two potential ways.
First, the results we would like to see and the timetable we would like to see them on may not be the results God has planned or the timetable He has in mind. A ministry's apparent lack of visible and concrete results does not automatically mean that God is not at work in that ministry and that it is not deserving of our support. Secondly, ministries that are not faithful to God's word may produce what seem to us to be the results God would want. While we may perceive that a ministry is producing concrete and visible results or a ministry itself may proclaim that it is producing concrete and visible results, this does not necessarily indicate God's blessing upon that ministry and that it is deserving of our support. Scripture repeatedly tells us that God does not value outward appearances, but looks upon the heart. Given our sinful and prideful natures, we can easily be misled by outward appearances, judging Christian work by man's standards rather than by God's standards.
So, what are God's standards when it comes to the stewardship of our gifts?
In Acts 10:4 and 10:31, God blessed Cornelius and stated, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." James 1:27 tells us, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." Galatians 2:10 encourages us to "remember the poor."
Therefore, when reviewing our Christian stewardship, it seems scripture supports our participation in a Christian charity such as Compassion International. Clearly, we're called to help the poor. Indeed, there's a special place in God's heart for children. Thus, it is our sincere belief that God will bless your stewardship decision to sponsor a child in need.
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