Abundance is God’s Gracious Gift

Our church has been blessed this week by the opportunity to host the Ugandan Kids Choir during this leg of their North American tour.  These are wonderfully sweet children who present concerts in order to raise funds and sponsorships for Childcare Worldwide, an organization that helps lift children out of poverty in Uganda and other countries throughout the world.  The children have been staying in host homes, and the tour director had a meeting with the home hosts to explain some possible cultural differences that might come to light.  One of the pieces of information was about food.  The Ugandan children come from a culture in which food is understood as a means of nutrition rather than a way to satisfy a desire for a particular taste.  They are very conscious of portions because it goes against their cultural norms to waste food or have so much food on a plate that some must be thrown away. 

That’s not a bad way to think about food.  In fact, it’s probably what God had in mind when God was designing humans and their nutritional needs.  The problem comes in that we Americans have access to so much easily obtainable food, that we no longer have to worry about consuming more than is available.  We can load our plates up and either eat more than is good for us, or toss the rest in the trash can.  We’ll just get more at Kroger or Ingle’s.  There used to be a Doritos advertising campaign that had the slogan, “Crunch all you want – we’ll make more.”  We believe it’s that simple.  We tend to eat to the limits of our means, and because those limits can be so high, we easily create an imbalanced perception of our rate of consumption, which can lead to health problems later.

Now surely you’re wondering at this point why I’m going on and on about food.  Well, the reason is that the food issue is a clear example of how we tend to behave with another resource – our finances.  This Sunday is our annual Commitment Sunday, on which we are asking our membership to prayerfully consider their estimated giving in the upcoming year.  We hope that you will be able to approach the traditional and biblically endorsed 10% of your income.  For a lot of us, that’s just not possible.  I admit that I’m in that camp.  For too many years, I “overate” and consumed to the limits of my financial resources, and even beyond.  To be financially responsible and to be responsible to my family and to fulfill my obligations to my creditors, I have to make progressive steps toward tithing.  It’s a goal that my wife and I are trying to reach, and we get a little closer each year.

The reason that God wants us to be good stewards of our resources has nothing to do with what God needs.  God is God.  God needs nothing because God is the cause, reason, and creator of everything.  Stewardship is about our  health; physical health in the stewardship of our diets, and spiritual health in the stewardship of our financial resources and the time and talent we share with the church.  When we commit to tithing, it makes us realize that with a little bit of faith and just a smidgen of discipline, we can live quite well on 90% of our income.  There is no need to consume everything available to our financial plates.  We can be comfortably filled and even healthier when we share.  It also helps us remember that God is faithful to provide what we need, although God may not provide everything we want.  Again, discipline and good judgement are key.
 

Abundance is God’s gracious gift.  There is no sin in being prosperous, and there is no sin in living the best life that we can.  The problem enters when we overconsume and thus lose our generosity and reliance on God in the process.

 

Grace and Peace,

                      Mike Stallings