Life in the Spirit – The Gift of Treasure
Matthew 6:21 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
How are you functioning these days as a steward of financial resources? We are called to fulfill the roles of diligent earner, generous giver, wise saver, cautious debtor, and prudent consumer. As we do this, and guard against materialism, we can not only be a blessing to others, but also truly enjoy our journey with the Lord.
Life in the Spirit – The Gift of Treasure
Life in the Spirit – The Gift of Talent
Romans 12:3-8 (NIV) For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently. If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
If you have an ability, or a learned skill, or a spiritual gift, that is a gift from God. Even whatever good you accomplish through the use of these talents is a gift from God.
In our flesh we all want to take praise and glory unto ourselves. So as we are having success in the world’s eyes, we need to remind ourselves where all that ability came from. In addition to using our talents for God, part of stewardship is remembering where those talents came from, and letting that reminder keep us humble.
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Life is a gift of time that we are responsible to steward with the decisions that we make until we die. Biblical time management is God’s wisdom applied to our lives. It’s not about knowing His path, it’s about walking His path. Why wouldn’t we want to search the scriptures and pray and seek discernment and guidance and wisdom, and then apply that wisdom to how we spend each day?
Life in the Spirit – Steward
I Corinthians 4:1-5 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
Life stewardship is the part of the journey of faith where personal growth plans and Christian character development really take root. It is only through first living as a worshiper and then living in Biblical community that I will really understand the Biblical perspective on life, to understand that God has given me every part of my life, and that I am tasked with stewarding it, with managing it for God’s purposes. Jesus didn’t just come to forgive us; He turned us into saints, people through whom He wanted to live, in and through community, but out in the world too. That’s what it means to have this gift of life.
Life in the Spirit – Ambassador
II Corinthians 5:16-21 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old is gone, the new is come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Think of some people in your relational world whose walk with God is not known to you. With a little bit of investment, prayer, and conversation, God will literally give you words to speak that will help them engage with and understand this message of reconciliation, that they are far from God in their sin and that God has done an amazing thing, so that they might be forgiven.
Proverbs 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.”
I Thessalonians 5:11-13 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love, because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”
Mentorship is an intentional training relationship for spiritual growth. By design you are asking other people to coach you in the faith—people you respect in the faith, and whose input you want as you grow toward Christ-likeness. It is good to have multiple wise people in your life whom you go to for training, for help in discerning where God is trying to take you deeper in your relationship with Him. Who is mentoring you at this time, and who are you mentoring? Be sure to include this type of fellowship in your Christian walk.
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His church. One of the more challenging aspects of living together as brothers and sisters in Christ is dealing with sin among us. This needs to be done in a loving way, a caring way, a building-one-another-up way. The process outlined in Matthew 18 is harsh if the people involved are in just a casual relationship, but for those in a covenantal community, with defined relational expectations (which the church is supposed to be), it is life-giving. As the church recaptures this relational dynamic, it becomes the light shining on a hill for all the world to see.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (NIV)
We all have a relational network we come from. How can we be faithful in these relationships? We have all been parented by someone, and some of us have been blessed with the opportunity to parent, and the responsibility of parenting the next generation. The way to do this is raise children in the will of God, to train
them to love and fear God in all they do. God wants us to be engaged with our families—parents, children, relatives—in ways that build them up in Christ, and not tear them down. Grow in your own discipleship, and as you grow in the Lord, God will reproduce who you are into the next generation.
Matthew 17:1-3 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (NIV)
Mark 14:32-34 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter and James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (NLT)
The inner circle of three is the most intensive form of covenant community in our lives. Jesus had this in Peter, James, and John. At the transfiguration, and again in Gethsemane, as well as numerous other times, Jesus focuses on these three to teach and share with, and so modeling how we should life as well. This type of close friendship, sharing successes and failures, hopes and fears, confidence and doubt, is one of the ways God speaks into our lives, and speaks through us into the lives of others.
Ephesians 4:15-16 [S]peaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)
Our ability to grow and help others to grow is dependent upon the type of relationship they (and we) are open to. Is someone willing to engage in conversation at all? Is he willing to engage in spiritual conversation? Is she committed to covenant community? Am I being mentored so as to be able to develop the ability to lead others in spiritual growth as well? Think about some of your relationships, and let these questions inform your next step to grow those relationships.