With September approaching around the corner, there will be a new focus for our Compassion Offerings: HOPE (Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement) for Longmont, whose vision is to preserve the dignity and self-sufficiency for people in our community who are experiencing homelessness. As fellow members of the same community, we can be good stewards by supporting HOPE’s mission, through either our Compassion Offering or the giving of our time and talents. So what, exactly, does being a good steward mean?

Susan Gurney, a Christian-based writer, explains what the term “stewardship” actually means in the following excerpts from her 2013 article from faithwriters.com:

“Stewardship” is a word often used in church that many just don’t understand. Most think it just means putting some cash or a check on the offering plate when it is passed, but it really means far more than that.

From the very beginning, God wanted us to care for all of His creation, to be stewards – managers and caretakers – of the earth and all living things. I believe this is what God meant in Genesis 1:28-30 when He told Adam and Eve to “subdue” His earth and to “rule over” all of its plants and animals. Taking this concept a few steps further, consider the fact that God made each of us. He gave each of us the abilities, health, and strength to make a living so our needs could be met. It then follows that all we “own is really not ours, but are rather gifts “on loan” from God. He is allowing us to manage these “loaned gifts” as His stewards .…. stewards of the money, time, property, talents, and “things” He has given us ….

…. It is emphasized in Exodus 36:3-7 that the giving of belongings, wealth, time, and God-given talents was to be done out of a willing heart, and that all who willingly gave, were not to stop giving until God, through Moses, told them to stop! (To give until God tells you not to give any more can be a scary thought to many, but I think God would rather we view it as a challenge to grow in our faith in Him.) It is also made clear in the Exodus passages that material wealth, time, and skills are gifts from God and are to be given back to God as gifts of gratitude.

Romans 12:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 8:12 and 9:6-15 point out our further responsibilities in the using and giving of our God-given gifts: if God has given us a gift in the form of a skill or ability, we are to use it to benefit others and to further His kingdom; we are to give willingly of what we have – God certainly doesn’t expect us to give what we don’t have, whether material things or skills – and we are to give cheerfully, knowing that God will always supply our needs and bless our giving.

Take a look at all that God has given you: your family, your health, your job, your home, and so on. Your personal list of God’s blessings to you could go on endlessly. God gives only good gifts to us, His children. What good gifts will you give back to Him? Will it be your best, given willingly out of a grateful heart?

Keeping Susan Gurney’s words in mind, ask yourself what YOU can do. Perhaps you have the financial freedom to give to HOPE during September’s Compassion Offering – or to any of the church’s other missions. Maybe you have the carpentry skills that enable you to help build something for someone in the community. If you have musical talent, would you share that with the church by singing in the choir? These are just a few of the things you can share with others to show your gratitude to God while helping the church or the less fortunate in your own community. Everyone has something to offer. And it isn’t always just a drop into the collection plate.

By Sandi Austin

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