May 26 - June 1, 2008
(Here is an archive column from 2005)
Poor, dumb critters
As they blissfully delight in the very thing that will destroy them, the ants in my house are teaching me about human sin and the poor stewardship that results.
To stem an infestation, I've set out bait stations that lure the ants with a sugary syrup that drives them wild. But the syrup is laced with borax that will eventually kill the whole colony.
Poor, dumb critters. They can't help but follow their instincts to gorge themselves, even as their colony slowly dies. Their brain capacity is weak and their feeding pattern is hard-wired into them.
Just like human sinfulness. As a species, we persist in lifestyles that are making us stressed, fat and sick. We continue to smoke and drink. We glorify empty sex lives that are anti-family, anti-marriage and spread dangerous diseases. We use violence as the primary way to resolve conflict.
Through overconsumption, we continue to waste resources and energy despite global warming, loss of wildlife habitat, a widening gap between rich and poor, and rising rates of cancer and other diseases. Like those ants, we march on blissfully, being poor stewards of our lives, our health, our relationships and our planet. Poor, dumb critters.
Sin is not what we do; it's what we are. The Lutheran prayer of confession puts it well: "We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves."
Thank God this is not the end of the story. We cannot free ourselves, but we have faith in God, who frees us. Jesus dwelled among us and died because of our sin, but he rose from the grave without our sin. Through our baptism into the life and death of Christ we are made new and free.
When we repent of sin we return to our baptism, clean and free again. Poor, dumb critters, but critters strengthened and transformed by the power of Christ.
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
(Reprint rights granted to congregations for nonprofit local use. Just include the following note: "Copyright (c) 2005 The Rev. Robert Blezard, www.stewardshipoflife. Used by permission.)
New This Week:
Martin Marty: Nurture Generosity
Generosity, unlike stewardship, has no limits, Martin Marty told a conference. "It's not that you've got to be generous, but you get to be. …It's not haranguing or threatening. It's liberation." Click here for “Nurture generosity,” from Episcopal Life magazine.
Bulletin Insert: Checkbook Theology
Here’s a great way to educate and inspire your congregation about stewardship – a Sunday bulletin insert. This one, available in PDF download, explores how our real beliefs are reflected in our financial records, such as checkbooks, bank statements and credit card bills. Click here for “Checkbook Theology” from the Office of Stewardship Resources in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Safeguards for Handling Church Funds
Many churches don’t think about financial safeguards until after the crisis – maybe a church leader dips into the till or an audit shows money unaccounted for. This practical guide tells you how to tighten up the operation. Click here for “Safeguards for Handling Church Funds,” from Enrichment Journal, the magazine of Assemblies of God.
Hilarious Giving: Debunking Five Tithing Myths
People are extremely resistant to the extremely biblical notion of tithing, and they often fall back on misinformation to justify their resistance. This article gives you some good counterarguments. Click here for “Debunking Five Tithing Myths,” from LifeWay publishing.