A scene in the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove showed two cowboys huddled under a tree, wrapped in wet blankets during an early evening rainstorm. Soaked, cold, and tired, they had been herding cattle all day. But they knew a number of strays needed to be rounded up. Shivering, with water dripping from the brim of his hat, one cowboy turned to the other and said, "Well, I guess this is where we find out if we were meant to be cowboys." Both cowboys got up and went and did the right thing — they found the strays.
With the financial markets' historic downturn, many Christians find themselves in a similar "cowboy" situation. Psalm 24:1 teaches us that the earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord. In other words, God owns it all; everything is His. Paul teaches us in Acts 17: 25, He [God] gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. So not only does God own it all, He gives to us our "everything" — our job, our family, our house, our church, our savings and investments, our talents, our spiritual gifts.
Christians are instructed by God to manage our "everything" for Him. This management of our "everything" defines a steward.
As stewards, part of our management assignment is to return one-tenth to the Lord. This act of obedience both tests our trust in His unfailing care and provides support for fulfilling Great Commission ministries. Sometimes, with so many competing demands, our decisions about how to spend money are tough to make. The easy thing to do is to just stay huddled under the tree until the rain stops and daybreak comes. In other words, many times we simply don't tithe because it is too difficult. When we do this, we fail to manage our resources for God.
But then God whispers His encouragement to us, and we are strengthened in the inner person of our hearts. We are reminded of Malachi 3:10, where the Lord makes one of the most reassuring statements found in the Bible: "Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way," says the Lord of Hosts. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure." We recall a similar promise in Philippians 4:19: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
We are instructed in the Bible to manage that which God has provided to us for Him, to be good stewards. Sometimes that is hard to do. It may be that the Lord allows hard times to come to help His children discover something about themselves — whether or not we were meant to be cowboys.
IT'S A NEW DAY
For Financial Freedom
January 24, 2009 - Marshall, TX
February 28, 2009 - Anna, IL
March 9, 2009 - Hendersonville, NC
March 10, 2009 - Greensboro, NC
March 12, 2009 - Raleigh, NC
March 13, 2009 - Wilmington, NC
March 14, 2009 - Raleigh, NC
April 23, 2009 - Fort Worth, TX
May 21, 2009 - Clinton, MS
May 22, 2009 - West, MS
Bob Rodgers is a member of West Franklin Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and is vice president for Cooperative Program & Stewardship with the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.