I wrote this for inclusion in a Thanksgiving devotional our church is planning to distribute in November. Since I haven't written a blog in forever, I decided to post it here as well. Let me know what you think.
I didn't become a Christian until I was 30. Before that, whenever I went to church, I was hyper-sensitive to any talk of money. If you had asked me at that time, I would have agreed with the common perception that churches talked about money too much.
When I did join the church, I was happy to accept all the gifts that church could bestow on me; nice sanctuary, new classroom, beautiful gym for my son to play ball and roller skate in, etc. As a token of my appreciation for these provisions, I agreed to be a "regular giver." However, the amount I was "regularly giving" was not very much, certainly nothing near a tithe. Part of me would still cringe whenever that passage about the "cheerful giver" was read aloud. I continued to attend for years, but after the initial excitement of finding Jesus, I have to admit my spiritual growth became stunted, as did my attitude towards giving.
Then I discovered the Disciple Bible Study program. Disciple I is a 35 week high level study of the entire Bible. More than that, it is a transformational experience that promotes spiritual growth through daily Bible readings and in depth discussions with other Christians who are trying to deepen their faith. I always think of Romans 12:2 where Paul instructs us to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind". This is what it took for me to begin to understand what Christ is calling us to do. He wants us to give all of ourselves, to hold nothing back, to "offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God" (Rom 12:1).
So at this point, I knew what was expected of me. However, I did not become a cheerful giver, much less an extravagant giver, overnight. I wish I could say there was one moment, one sermon or one Bible verse that turned me around. But just as my faith journey did not include a "road to Damascus moment" so too did my stewardship journey take time for me to internalize the head knowledge I had gained into a heartfelt understanding. Continued involvement in Disciple, Sunday School classes, sermons, service projects and personal Bible reading and prayer finally helped me to recognize all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me, but more importantly, I learned that being a Christian isn't about taking, it's about giving. It's about sacrifice. It's about taking the salvation message of Christ into the world.
I am happy and honored and blessed to be able to do my part. Christian stewardship isn't an obligation, it's a privilege! Thank God for trusting me to use the money, talent and time he has given me in order to help others and to reach others with the love and joy of Christ Jesus!