July 16 -22, 2007




Biblical Stewardship: Portion Control

Every night during a week at confirmation camp, our junior high kids received a lesson in portion control: So that everybody may get their fair share of the dinner, on the first go around everybody was to take just one scoop, or two slices, or one plateful -- whatever was appropriate for the dinner served.

Once everybody had received about the same dinner, only then were seconds available for the still-hungry. That way, everybody gets what they need. Those who want more won't take it at the expense of others.

It strikes me that in a nation that revels in the "all-you-can-eat" mentality,  we can all use lessons in "portion control" for the benefit of individuals and society alike.

Just take food. Statistically, Americans are getting huge. Obesity has been rising, along with Type II diabetes, heart disease and other weight-related conditions. Hip and knee replacements are common as joints wear out under the strain of so much weight. Think that our rising health care costs are due entirely to greedy hospital administrators? No, we're fatter and sicker. Portion control would involve eating no more than is necessary for health and energy. Antithetical to the American way of life? Yup. And individuals would have healthier lives and we would all enjoy lower health-care costs. Maybe we could even use the savings to help buy policies for the 45 million uninsured.

We could also use portion control on our energy consumption. How many air conditioners hum in spaces we do not use? How few miles per gallon do our cars and trucks go, when a more energy efficient vehicle would serve us just as well? Reduce demand and price goes down. Everybody wins, including the planet, which is another way that everybody wins.

With "portion control" governing our choice of housing, we might well be satisfied with a smaller house whose mortgage we could afford, rather than a mini-mansion that strains our budget and causes us to go into high credit-card debt. Less pressure on the housing market would keep supply stable and entry-level housing affordable for the people who earn on the bottom end.

The Biblical view of wealth shows that we should be satisfied when we have wealth that meets our needs. Everything beyond that is a blessing, not an entitlement, and with it comes responsibility to use it wisely for Godly purposes.

In Luke 3, John the Baptist tells people to prepare for the Kingdom of God by changing their relationship to their wealth and money.  In verses 10-14, John tells people to share their goods, don't take more than they are entitled to, and be happy with their pay. Sounds like portion control to me.

--Rob Blezard, Webmaster and Editor
Reprint rights gladly given for nonprofit congregational use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2007 the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission."

New This Week

Loose Change: If This Coin Could Speak:
Christian CenturyA Roman coin from the time of Christ led a thoughtful author into a flight of fancy. It’s a nice essay, an inspiring read that may get you thinking about the stewardship of your own life and times. Click here for “Loose Change,” from Christian Century.

Surrender to the Flow of Generosity
Dana Reardon“Maybe God wants me to learn firsthand about the flow of giving and receiving. In the midst of illness, my medical bills are piling up, even with insurance. Someone offered to pay them. I was horrified, even though I had no idea how I would find the money.” Click here for “Surrender to the Flow of Generosity,” this week’s essay by Stewardship columnist The Rev. Dana Reardon. Click here to read archived columns.

Extinction and Sin
Journal of Lutheran Ethics“Species now disappear for other reasons: encroaching human habitat and the toxic consequences of human industry. To put the matter theologically: if the genocide of creatures, witting or unwitting, isn’t sin, what on earth qualifies?” In a fine (and disquieting) essay, renown ethicist Larry Rasmussen explores this aspect of environmental stewardship. Click here for “Extinction and Sin,” from the Journal of Lutheran Ethics

Stewardship from the Lectionary
Your ChurchLooking for a way to put more stewardship into your preaching? Here is a great help -- a weekly commentary that highlights stewardship aspects in the weekly lectionary texts. Click here for "Stewardship from the Lectionary," from ELCA Stewardship Resources.