Is 10% Enough?

We give 10% to the church but is that what it's really all about (photo inside a cathedral in Kosice, Slovakia)
We give 10% to the church but is that what it’s really all about? (photo inside a cathedral in Kosice, Slovakia)

Many Christians believe that being a good steward is only being wise in one’s finances and giving a tithe of 10% of their income to the church.  I’ve come to understand stewardship to be so much more in the way God has been working in my life recently.

What is Biblical Stewardship?

Biblical stewardship is believing that all things belong to God and therefore we should treat them as such.  This is very easily understood in terms of money–it is through God’s provision that we can have good jobs (or any other source of financial blessing)–and the means by which we provide for ourselves and our family.  It is clear in the Bible that we should give the first-fruits of our income back to God through what is commonly called a tithe.  In fact, it is well known that God tells us more about how we should handle our finances than any other topic in the Bible.  There are a great number of resources available to Christians on how to be Biblically financially responsible.  I would argue that many Christians get so hung up on their own financial situation that they forget about other areas of God’s provision.

Being a Good Steward of Services

Just like God asks us to show our gratitude for his financial provision for us, we need to be aware of how He provides for others.  For many people, we are God’s provision.

Think about all the people who serve you throughout the week as they work hard to make a living–restaurant servers, auto mechanics, cashiers, customer service reps, etc… It really frustrates me when I hear of Christians who leave poor tips at restaurants or go to the ends of the earth to get a steep discount or free items or services.  In my understanding of the Bible, this is just as bad as being irresponsible with our own finances because it means someone is working hard for their income and not being fairly compensated.  We need to be just as grateful for the service we pay others to provide for us as God’s provision for our own finances.

That said, leave a fair tip for your restaurant server.  If you can’t afford to tip at least 15% of your bill, find a creative alternative such as making a fun meal together.

Be patient with your auto-mechanic (please!  I’m married to one and find it so sad how terribly they get treated by their boss AND the customer).

Be educated about airline travel–your flight attendant is not just there to serve you drinks (that one is for my siblings in the airline industry).

These are just a few examples.  There are so many others who serve you daily!


Being a Good Steward of God’s Creation

Being “green” is the hype in the United States of America but it’s not just for outdoor enthusiasts and tree huggers.  Genesis clearly shares how God created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it.  Then, God created man and gave us dominion over it.  That is, we are to take care of it.  It doesn’t mean we have to be outdoor enthusiasts who spend exorbitant amounts of time exploring the seas and forests but it does mean that we should be kind to His creation.  This means being aware of the trash and pollution we produce and taking steps to minimize the things we do which are destructive to the environment.  This also means that we should know where our food comes from.  The leading cause of pollution in this country is factory farming–the source of nearly all our meat!  This is a huge topic which I’m very passionate about and hope to share more about it on this blog in the future.


Being a Good Steward of our Own Health

I’ve always been into health, nutrition and exercise.  This was a lot easier to maintain when I was an avid runner and studying Physical Education in college.  Now I work a desk job and am busy caring for a house, being a supportive wife and volunteering at church, so exercise is something that gets pushed aside.  Regardless, I’ve always had a handful of health issues no matter how conscious I’ve been about my health.  God created us and formed us in a way specifically to carry out the tasks God has called us to do to build His kingdom.  Doesn’t the fact that God formed us in His image make it very obvious that we should honor our bodies as a great treasure?

Unfortunately, because of sin, our bodies are subject to breaking, to sickness, and disease.  Thankfully, our relationship is restored with God through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection!  When we come into a right relationship with Him, our bodies are filled with His Holy Spirit.  While we have to wait for heaven for our physical bodies to be fully restored, I believe we should do all we can to care for ourselves until that time.

In the past few years I have started straying from the American health system and started figuring out how to care for my health naturally.  It’s amazing how God has provided us with so many the things necessary for a full healthy life without all the drugs and procedures modern day medicine offers!* A few months ago, I decided to figure out if I could alter my diet to help manage some of my health issues.  Through an elimination diet I found that my body simply cannot tolerate dairy.  By eliminating milk, cheese, yogurt, etc…I feel so much better!  My digestion, menstrual cycle, hair and skin are all healthier than ever in my 30 years of life.  I also found some other foods that I should reduce in my diet for the sake of the extra health boost.

*Please note, I do believe that God has also provided medical doctors with the ability to care for us in great ways, so I am in no way advocating not having a primary care physician or seeking medical help when necessary.  You should always consult a doctor before trying any sort of special diet or natural health remedies.


Being a Good Steward of One Another

God created us for community.  He gave Adam a partner because He knew it was not good for Adam to be alone.  He gave us fellowship within the body of Christ because together we are better.  So many divisions have happened within the Church because Christians have lost sight of this.

Several years ago I was in training for evangelical ministry with a wonderful para-church organization that really exemplified this picture–a large organization, one body, many valuable parts.  One thing I learned that has stuck with me all these years is how to determine whether an issue is worth dividing over and when it’s better to just let it go and continue living your own God-given convictions.  The deciding factor is whether two parties (individuals or groups of people) agree on salvation.  Does the issue affect whether or not a person is saved?  You may have different opinions or convictions about certain aspects of Christianity.  In those cases it is best to just agree to disagree and figure out how you can bring it back to the Gospel and continue to glorify God.  If the issue is of a matter of salvation, then there is no room for flexibility and you should lovingly go your separate ways.  This standard has been valuable in my relationships with other believers and in how I share my belief with non-believers.

There are so many cases where the church has been divided over opinions or convictions that have clouded over the Truth of the Gospel.  So many brotherly and sisterly bonds have been broken over small matters.  So many people who do not know Jesus personally have been alienated from the Truth because of these divisions–because of how terribly Christians treat one another!–that it breaks my heart.

I’m not saying I’m perfect in this.  What I am saying is that we need to be unified as the body of Christ for the edification of one another, the glory of God, and our witness of the gospel.  It it being a good steward of our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the Gospel.


Where to Begin

Being a good steward is a huge topic, as you can see.  My goal has been to simply open it up as a bigger idea than how stewardship is usually discussed.  By no means do I consider all these things each and every day.  Writing about it has been part of my process as I grow as a Christian in this area.  It is not a black and white issue but something to continually ask the Lord about over time.

I suggest thinking about one of these areas where you tend to overlook as being a good steward and ask God if there is one way in which you can improve in that area.  Continue praying about it, seeking God’s Word for times when He addresses it and ask His Holy Spirit to guide you daily.

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