Don't be a good steward of what you've been given? Well I don't really mean that like it sounds, I don't mean be a bad steward, I mean let God be the steward. Have faith, he'll keep giving good gifts! Now the story of the apostrophe... I mean epiphany.
Sometimes when you are presenting the fruits of all that research and study don't fully jell until you are in front of an audience. This happened to me in Abilene. (Which went very well, thank you very much... although Kelly Sargent is now dead to me.) I was presenting and talking about 5 loaves and 2 fishes and suddenly dozens of tidbits from all over the lesson suddenly drew together in my mind into a beautiful tapestry.
I was relaying what the Apostles where saying behind Jesus' back at the feeding of the 5 thousand. Judas gets out his abacus and starts to calculate... ONE YEARS salary to feed all these people? Do we have that much? If we do we AIN'T spending it on some luncheon in the park. Not just Judas but all the apostles showed a lack of faith and eventually Judas puts this lack of faith into an audible form by saying "We've got to be good stewards of what we've been given."
Ok so I laid it on pretty thick and everybody in the room groaned! They groaned loudly! We all shared a moment, we've all heard it said "Be a good steward of what we've been given." And judging by their reaction they've seen this used not about money but to squelch some idea or plan because it costs too much.
So I asked the audiences, "Should we be good stewards of what we've been given?" They all were said to nod that they probably should. Then I said, "Really? Was Jesus a good steward of what he was given?" When he had to feed 5000 people he didn't bother counting the money he just knew they needed to be fed. Clearly the message her was not that "We should share like the boy with the lunch." The message is "We should have faith UNLIKE the apostles in the power of Jesus."
And what happened to all that Gold, Frankenberry and Myrrh?! Shouldn't he have invested that as a child and used the interest to pay for a carpenters shop or to recarpet the synagogue? Where did he squander all that, on that little trip they took to Egypt?
And what's up with pouring pure nard on your feet! That could have been sold to feed the homeless! Jesus should have sold that and opened a soup kitchen.
Clearly Jesus was not concerned about money. He consistently showed that money should be used not saved. And from the story that will never be forgotten we learn that it is ok to really indulge our love for God. Couldn't the woman have brought some generic perfume! No way! Jesus deserved the name brand good stuff!
So I ask my audience where does "be a good steward of what we've been given come from?" And what gives this statement the power to squelch anything! I think it is used when someone wants to oppose an idea but not speak out against it directly. It's not that they don't like projectors its that we can't afford them.
So workshop said it probably came from the parable of the talents and I said, I think that's true. But if you really look at it, who gets the worst treatment? The person who was the most protective of his money! He got it taken away from him before you got to use it. At least he should have banked it for interest. That is basically the least you should do: interest in a bank.
Another parable mentions a man who builds bigger barns with all his savings. He had to open a new bank account to keep his money in. But what happens to that guy? CROAKED in his sleep and someone else got to spend the money he'd saved. So spend it while you got it.
But clearly there is a higher calling for what to do with your money in the story. Those who were blessed went out and invested it! And what does invest mean? In basically means put it at risk. You can't invest in a stock without the risk of it bottoming out. But you have to risk the lows to get those big highs! And if we have faith, we can invest and know that he will increase it! And if he doesn't we have the faith that we can live on what is left and God will provide again.
Jesus had that attitude: Use what you've got to do good! Sometimes you make a 1000% profit, but if you have nothing, do good with nothing in your pockets. I don't think Jesus would be against some rational saving process for individuals for retirement or college or whatever. But clearly when it came to ministry he spent it like it was burning a hole in his pocket!
I'm happy to say I try to be like Jesus: I spend the budget I'm given to do as much good as I can! If they gave me more I'd spend more (in fact I regularly spend my own money and forget to turn in the reciepts). And if one day I have to work with only a tiny fraction of this budget I'll spend all of it to do as much good as I can. I don't let money burn a hole in my pocket. I don't want to get caught counting beans when there are souls being counted.