When you think of grace, what comes to mind? For me, grace is the free unearned quality of God that leads us to a full life.
To embrace and live this full life is our soul’s work. The question is, how do you and I do this? How do we embrace this gift that moves us beyond ourselves to be our true-selves for God, for others, and yes, even for ourselves?
One key element in both expressing grace, and experiencing it simultaneously, is the spiritual discipline of giving. Yes giving.
Stewardship is a spiritual discipline that I believe flows as a natural expression of my experience of God’s grace. A few years ago a person asked: “you donate to your own church … why? Isn’t that like paying yourself?” How does one respond to a question like this? It seems underneath his question, and my answer, lies a profound difference in understanding theology — as well as spirituality. I give, not because anyone expects me to, much less God, but I give, because life for me would not be life.
The connection between stewardship and spirituality is often overlooked, and/yet one is a natural response to the other. As my faith continues to develop and deepen, so too does my steward. Experiencing grace leads to a natural expression of it. It would not matter to me if I were in the pulpit or the pew, I would practice the art of stewardship: it is something key to my very being, it is critical to my soul’s work.
I have found over the years, that the more I let go of my fears around my financial resources, the more able I am to embrace this unearned quality of God that leads me to a fuller life. The more I offer freely to God, the more I am aware of God’s free grace offered to me. For me, one literally brings about the other. I don’t, however, give more so I can get more; this a twisted understanding of stewardship. I give in response to this gift of life, and in the giving, and letting go, I am more aware to all the wonders and graces of life all around me. In fact, I have found the more I open my hands, and my finances to others, the more free I become.
Expressing grace, is practicing faithful stewardship: a regular disciplined act of giving. I invite you to look at what stewardship means to you. Is it simply giving from your excess or is it a response from the very core of your being as you experience this amazing gift called life?
In Stewardship with you,
Jeffrey Steven Gaines