The book of Acts relates the history of Christianity from the point where the Gospels end. After Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, the Holy Spirit was manifested in a singular way, and the apostles were progressing with dynamism and vigor, courageously proclaiming the story of the resurrected Christ.
Doubtless the book of Acts narrates only a few of the wonderful events that took place. The Holy Spirit counseled Luke to record Peter and John’s visit to the temple, where they cured a man who had been lame from birth. Peter’s words may have sounded a little strange when he declared, “Silver and gold I do not have . . . ,” but how striking was the fact that he took the man by the hand, raised him, and, through the Holy Spirit, cured him!
That day, a double miracle occurred. The man jumped up the moment he was cured and learned to walk.
This story teaches us an important lesson about stewardship. Today we need to do for the love of Jesus whatever we can with what we have, wherever we are, and never wait for great opportuni- ties or for a time wher more abilities and resources are available
I. MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING
When we talk about stewardship, it is common to think in terms of money, but it's clear that money is not the most important thing in this story. In fact, Pe- ter attributed a smaller importance to money when he declared "Silver and gold I do not have" and then performed the miracle.
Is it possible that we have reached a time in the life of a church or religious organization when money is a stumbling block?
During a visit to the pope, Thomas Aquinas, an imminent religious leader, was shown all the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope said, "Well, Thomas, the Church can no longer say, 'Silver and gold I do not have."" Thomas immediately answered, "Yes, holy Father, but have you realized that the church is also at risk of not being able to say. "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”"?
II. BUT MONEY IS IMPORTANT
What we have just considered is true, but something else is also true: Money is necessary to move forward with God's work in the world. The Word of God says a lot regarding stewardship of our assets and giving money to God’s cause. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul devotes chapters 8 and 9 to the subject of donating material goods. He states, “But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7). The apostle emphasizes that our supreme example in the act of giving is the Lord Jesus Christ who, although rich, became poor so that through His poverty, we could be rich.
God gave some people the ability to make a lot of money. Their duty is to give a good part of their money to the work of preaching the gospel.
In Old Testament times, a 10 percent tithe was the minimum to be given. However, considering all the special offerings and additional tithes, an Old Testament believer gave much more than 10 percent.
III. HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE?
What can we offer God? A generation ago, the emphasis was in a person’s talents and abilities. Today, however, we talk about gifts. We could make a distinction between the two, but we are not concerned about this distinction at the moment. On the contrary, the question to ask is: “What do I have to offer my Lord?” Another question immediately follows: “Am I willing to give my self—including my talents, abilities, and gifts—so that God can use me as He sees best?”
When General Pershing disembarked in France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, he and his troops presented themselves to General Foch, commander of the Allied Forces. In the presence of Foch, he said, “Our men, our arms, our resources, and everything we have are yours. Use them as you see best.” God hopes to hear the same statement from every Christian.
Stewardship means giving everything we have to our Master, without reservation, for the service of His kingdom.
All who believe in Christ and dedicate themselves to Him have great riches. These gifts, however, are spiritual resources. A Christian’s greatest happiness should be to share the gospel with others, through words and example. This, however, does not exempt the Christian from the duty to support God’s work financially.
A true believer in Christ should be liberal and compassionate. When it comes to financial matters, we cannot escape our responsibility, arguing that we are “spiritual” and therefore not required to give financial gifts. In Old Testament times, even the Levites returned a tithe from the tithes.
On the other hand, our financial donations do not exempt us from serving in other ways. Stewardship involves our lifestyle as well as our finances. When it comes to stewardship, it is not a matter of one or the other. Time, talent, tithe, influence—everything we have belongs to God.
General Conference Ministerial Association