Leftovers are such humble things,
We would not serve them to a guest,
And yet we serve them to our Lord
Who deserves the very best.
We give Him leftover time,
Spare minutes here and there,
Leftover cash we give to Him,
Such few coins as we can spare.
We give our youth to the world,
To hatred, lust, and strife;
Then in declining years we give
To Him the remnant of our life
Author – Unknown
When I first read this poem, it went straight to my heart. It really pierced me because I realized that unintentionally, many times I had done exactly what the poem describes. I always made sure I gave to the Lord of my possessions, my money, my time, and yes even my children, but unfortunately although I was giving, I was only giving the leftovers.
According to Lynn A. Miller, “Stewardship is the act of organizing your life so that God can spend you.” I really love this quote, and I feel it captures beautifully what Biblical stewardship is all about. It’s about giving of ourselves, and all we have, in a way that leaves no doubt about where our priorities are. I believe that in order to truly be good stewards, our stewardship must be intentional. We must begin with God, and find ways to fit our lives to Him, rather than fitting God into the rest of our lives.
My grandmother gave me some very wise, practical advice on how to do this financially. Soon after my husband and I were married my grandmother was talking to me about stewardship and she told me that at the first of every month she would sit down and write out their bill payments for that month, but the very first thing she would do was write out her contribution checks. The rest of their budget was always adjusted after they gave to the Lord.
She also told me how she and my grandpa had agreed early on in their marriage that their contribution would always be their greatest expenditure, except for their necessary mortgage. Their total contribution for every month was greater than every other payment they made, including their car payments. As a young bride who was still in college that seemed almost impossible to me! However, this was an incredible example, and my husband and I vowed to do the same. We have managed and we have never done without, and never regretted giving to God first.
I have been blessed in my lifetime to see many brethren who are very generous with their finances. They regularly give large sums of money to the Lord’s work, and that is very admirable. Biblical stewardship involves much more than our finances, though. Jesus Himself taught that we should give of our homes, food and clothing in Matthew 25:35-46. The sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50 was praised by Jesus for using her hair, tears, and oil to serve Him. Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19 both give us specific examples of the brethren opening up their own homes for the church to worship in. Also, in Luke 12:16-21 Jesus teaches a parable about a man who stored up many goods for himself, but did not use them for the cause of Christ, and the man was condemned.
I challenge you to pause and consider all of the many physical blessings God has given you. How are you giving those blessings back to Him? Do you host Bible studies in your home? Do you invite visitors into your home to help them feel welcomed and loved? Do you use your vehicles to bring people with you to worship, or to take those who are elderly to the store or to doctor’s appointments? Do you give of your food and clothing to the needy? The world asks: “What does a man own?” God asks, “How does he use what he’s been given?”
Another blessing that we must be good stewards of is our time. This is one of the most valuable possessions we have because once it is gone, there is no getting it back. How much time every day do we spend watching TV? How much time every day do we spend going to our children’s extra curricular activities? How much time do we spend on our hobbies? How much time do we spend studying God’s Word? How much time do we spend serving our brethren? When we really stop and consider, are we being good stewards of our time? We often wonder why the early church absolutely exploded, yet we struggle to grow at all. I think the use of our time is a big part of it. Reading through Acts 2:42-47 paints a picture of the lives of the early church. They lived and breathed to fellowship and serve each other. Paul tells us plainly in Ephesians 5:16 that we are to make the best use of our time because the days are evil. Have we been doing this?
In addition to our finances, possessions, and time, one of the most vital things we must give to the Lord is our children. Psalm 127:3 tells us that our children are a heritage and reward from the Lord. Are we being good stewards of our children? Is our focus with our children on improving our local sports teams, or improving our congregation of the Lord’s body? Are we bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord as commanded in Ephesians 6:4, or are we training them to focus on being successful in the world? For myself as the mother of four young ones, these are questions that I must ask every single day. Some days I like the answer I get, and some days I am forced to re-evaluate the priorities we are living out with our children.
Sisters, God has blessed us all SO plentifully. It is our duty as Christians to look for ways to use those blessings to serve God. However, the final gift we must be good stewards of is ourselves. Each one of us has been given our own special, unique talents, and it is our job to learn them and use them. So often I hear my brethren say things like, “Oh, I could never do that!” Or, “that’s just not my talent!” Which would be fine, because, once again, we each have different talents, except generally the people who say these things aren’t serving in any capacity at all.
Sisters, not actively serving the church is not being a good steward of the talents God has given us.
I have also seen people who acknowledge their talents, yet refuse to use them for the cause of Christ. I have known people who love to write, but refuse to write things of a spiritual nature. I have seen people who are willing to speak for college classes and a grade, or for things such as 4-H, yet refuse to teach Bible classes or present a lesson from God’s Word. I have seen sisters who teach in the public school system, but refuse to teach Bible classes. This absolutely breaks my heart. When we intentionally withhold our talents from the church we are not being good stewards of those God-given talents.
I firmly believe that being a good steward is a way of living, not a check list. Being a good steward of the spiritual blessings God has given us is about finding a way to use the things we do to serve the Lord. We are blessed with a wonderful example of this in our congregation. We have a wonderful woman who is a beautician. She freely offers her time and expertise to do manicures, pedicures, and makeovers for our older women. It is truly amazing the result freshly painted nails can have on a sister who can’t leave the nursing home! We also have brethren who own a nursery and volunteer their skills and expertise to help keep our building grounds looking beautiful and welcoming. We have women who enjoy decorating who make it their ministry to keep the building warm and welcoming on the inside.
There is no such thing as a talent that is so small or insignificant that it cannot be used to serve our Heavenly Father. The question is whether or not we are putting out the effort to use our talents for the cause of Christ, and whether or not we are putting out the effort to grow the spiritual gifts God has given us.
God has blessed us all so richly. He has given us so much financially, physically, and spiritually. What are we giving back to Him? Has giving to God of all that we have and all that we are been our priority, or have we without even realizing it only been giving God our leftovers? Let me encourage you to strive daily to give God the best of all that you have, and all that you are.