This is Not Our Rest
My friends and I might not be “old,” but we’re definitely not young.
And as a result, we’ve become more aware of our limitations, and we’ve added a couple categories to our thinking about stewardship. Stewarding money and time are no-brainers. There are plenty of warnings and invitations in the Bible about how we spend our money and our time. And there are plenty of insights about how our choices in those categories reveal what we truly worship, and in what we truly place our faith and hope.
But my friends and I have added two additional items to our stewardship list over the past few years: energy and opportunity.
You see, as a result of being older, we get tired. And that’s not only due to getting older. Sometimes we are not physically tired. We are emotionally tired. Last year, as an example, was a longer year than most, with plenty of temptations to feel discouraged, frustrated, exhausted, isolated… even hopeless.
But one advantage of age (and perhaps, of humility from many years of failure) is that you care less about measuring up to the expectations of others. You know you can’t. You are less interested in wearing masks and in playing games. We can’t even live up to our own expectations, let alone those of others. So… it’s a bit easier to say “no” to things when you are fifty than when you are thirty. It’s easier to choose more opportunities that leave you feeling energized and fewer that leave you feeling drained. It’s easier to see that the whole world doesn’t revolve around you, and that it won’t fall apart without you holding it all together.
But also, it’s a bit easier to say “no” to healthy things, too. It’s harder to get moving. It’s harder just to get up out of a chair!
And I don’t just mean that it’s harder to get moving physically. It’s harder to overcome the gravity of past hurts, failures, and disappointments. It’s harder to move past our own unmet expectations and unrealized hopes. It’s harder to get in motion and then to leverage that inertia to keep moving. It’s harder to achieve escape velocity. It’s easier to just wait (and hope) for something better to come along. And although hope in God does not disappoint — faith without action is dead.
And that brings us to the fourth category of stewardship — opportunity.
The Bible says that we reap what we sow. And Jesus’ parables on stewardship are alarmingly unforgiving. To the good steward, He says, “Well done. Enter into your Master’s rest.” And to the unfaithful servant, He says, “Take what he has and cast him into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Yikes. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, indeed.
And so, we’re not only commanded to tithe faithfully and to honor God with hard work (as if unto the Lord) and a Sabbath. We’re called to show a return on His investment. We are called to nurture and grow the seeds of opportunity that we are given.
To some He gives five talents. To some, two. And to some, one. But whatever He gives, He expects you to sow it faithfully and to bear good fruit. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” And also, “With great power comes great responsibility.” (That last one isn’t from the Bible, it’s from Spiderman.)
One final note about opportunity.
One of the great kindnesses of our God is that He redeems our failures and our suffering in such a way that we can count them as joy. Within the Gospel, and within the Church, your failures don’t disqualify you. They are what qualify you for salvation. And they are what equip you for work in the Kingdom of God.
So… for those who are full of talent and potential, and for those who are full of sorrow and regret, God invites us all to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, and to steward our money, time, energy, and opportunity in such a way as to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And in the meantime, what a blessing it is to be in community, building one another up in the faith as we work and wait.
And by the way… an opportunity to serve is coming up on July 24 with GFC’s ECHO event. Shameless plug. I couldn’t resist. I love being a part of this community, both at Grace Fellowship and in Johnson City. And I hope to see you out there, on the 24th or on some other day, serving and loving and doing good work.
As Charles Spurgeon once said, referring to our time on earth: “This is not our rest.” There is good work to do. Let’s get out there and do it!
To learn more about this year’s ECHO event, where we’ll be echoing God’s love in the community through service,
visit the ECHO webpage.