At Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida we have a Mission Statement:
Giving ourselves daily to help each one live
in the rescuing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is a significant part of the definition of stewardship. Stewardship is giving ourselves daily as a living sacrifice to God, giving our heart, soul mind, and body as well as our stuff to Him in worship and in gratitude for all that He has given to us. Is stewardship about money? Yes, but it is about so much more than just money. It is a full life concept. See What is Biblical Stewardship?
As we do this daily giving of ourselves, we realize that everything we have, from our first breath each morning all the way to the bed and pillow on which we lay our head at night is a gift from God. Not only are these gifts, but they remain the “property” of God and can be withdrawn at any moment. Every minute of every day is a gift and is to be sacrificed to Him.
Let’s break that Mission Statement down to make it bite-sized.
We are to give ourselves
All I have, including my life, is subject to the grace of God. All the stuff I have, I have by the grace of God and I have it only as long as I live. When life ends, my stuff passes by my will and by my beneficiary designations, and the rest is sold, given away or thrown away.
Those expensive vacations I took? The memories are gone and the pictures will be either thrown away or deleted. There will remain for some time a few historical references such as the deed to my home in the official records of Hillsborough County, Florida. I was a trial lawyer so there will be a record for a while at least of cases I tried, whether I won or lost, and whether I was right or wrong, a perspective that can change as time and culture changes. None of those details last or matter for long.
So what am I, a name that lives for a moment and then vanishes? No. I am a child of the living God, loved by Him, chosen by Him for a relationship, and given the blessing and opportunity to worship and enjoy Him forever.
With all of that, it would be inconceivable for me to selfishly say to myself and live out in my life, “I know this was all given to me by my Creator. It’s all mine now and I will ignore Him and do what I want the way I want to do it.”
The problem with being a living sacrifice is, as Chuck Swindoll put it so eloquently, is that living sacrifices want to crawl off the alter, so it takes a daily effort to stay there. While the word picture is humorous, it is also Biblical.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Following Jesus is a daily step we are to take.
To help each one
We have what we have for our use and for God’s ultimate praise. But there is more purpose than just that. We are called to help, support and encourage believers and reach out to those outside the faith – to offer the blessing of what we have received to others. Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20, and Hebrews 10:23-25.
Literally we have been given life, eternal life, as well as the blessing of a more abundant life than the lost can even know exists. John 10:10.
In the rescuing power
One of the hard parts of sharing the Gospel is that the lost often don’t even know they are lost. There is an ironic truth to the fact that you just don’t know what you don’t know. It is hard to save, or rescue, someone who doesn’t know he is lost and doesn’t believe he needs to be saved or rescued.
But we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit of God who lives in us, John 14:15-17), and the world is hard and delivers difficulties that bring many people to a realization that they are not the center of the universe (John 16:33).
Of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
There are other gospels, but only one Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that God, in His love and grace, has made a re-establishment of the original relationship by the incredible sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. The Gospel is pure grace, an undeserved and unearned gift to each of us.
What does that give us?
That is stewardship, whole life full stewardship. It began with creation and will continue until His Kingdom is restored. We have “our” stuff, all given by God for our use for His glory. He made it all and He allows us temporary use of it for His purposes. Our use is as a steward, a caretaker for the property of another. Our responsibility is to take good care of all that is His, which means everything. Finally, He retains the right to reclaim what is His at any time. After all, there really are no U-Hauls following hearses.
About the Author
John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.