Article by Paul Stiver
I was laughing to myself after my recent fantasy baseball draft. It dawned on me that I know a lot of information about random baseball players whom I’ll never meet. I realized that I’ve dedicated a good portion of my brain space to tracking these guys. I’m not saying it’s wrong to play fantasy baseball by any means, I just think it’s funny. We do a lot of tracking in our day-to-day lives. We have budgets to keep track of our finances. Social media is, in it’s own right, a way of tracking our friends and family. We keep tabs on blogs, news, TV shows, sports, and so much more.
Recently, I started tracking my daily calorie intake with an app. I’ve been surprised to see the results because I had never really considered serving size, nutrients, and calories this intently before. As I tracked my calories this way, it led me to think about my stewardship in general. With all the tracking I do, do I ever stop and think about the ways I’m stewarding and investing the grace God has given me? Am I tracking my spiritual portfolio?
In Luke 19, Jesus is telling the Parable of the Ten Minas. It’s a familiar story, where Jesus is portrayed as the master, with servants to whom he has entrusted a stewardship. Upon his return, he takes an account of their investment of his money. The first two servants have invested generously in his absence, and are blessed lavishly by their master. The third servant, however, hid the master’s mina instead of investing it. In his defense, he tells his master, “‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow’” (Luke 19:20-21). The master responds by taking the mina away. Why? The servant hoarded the stewardship given to him, instead of investing it, because he didn’t understand the great generosity of his master.
In the same way, when we struggle to be generous with the grace we’ve been given, we are overlooking how generous Christ has been to us. We need to be reminded that there is much more joy in generosity than in hoarding. This is why Paul reminds the Corinthian church, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV). We need the gospel that reminds us that our Lord Jesus took on flesh, entering into our mess, living a perfect life in our place, then paying our penalty and giving us his riches of righteousness. We love because he first loved us, and we live because he lives. In our stewardship we must remember to give of ourselves because he first gave himself for us and this will inspire us to new levels of self-giving generosity.
As believers, Christ has entrusted us all with grace. Paul says, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men’ ” (Eph. 4:7–8). Paul’s quotation comes from Psalm 68, which now unfolds as a picture of Christ as the Divine Warrior ascending his throne after victory, to the praises of his people. Christ has declared victory over Satan, sin, and death. Out of his victory train, Christ has apportioned each one of us in the church with gifts of grace, meant to edify and build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:15-16). Christ has gifted us all with grace so that we might live to glorify him as our King.
In the same way that we track other things, we can track our spiritual investments. We know that Christ has gifted us uniquely and specifically for his purposes. We know that gospel joy will not be found in hoarding that grace, but in investing grace to see the edification of the others. At Hope, we say that we’ve been blessed in four ways: Time, Talent, Ticker, and Treasure. In each of these areas, we can be shrewd investors of grace. Instead of hoarding our time, talents, ticker, and treasure to ourselves we can generously bless others. The questions we have to ask ourselves are, “How has God given me grace in these areas?” and “How can I invest this grace to build up Christ’s church?”
These investments can take on a myriad of opportunities. We can invest in our marriages, our children’s lives, our relationships, and our friendships. We can invest in our small groups. We can serve within the walls of Hope, or branch out into the partner ministries. We can use our gifts to reach our co-workers, family, and friends with the gospel. We can invest in our own discipleship and growth through LDI, LDI Off-Road, Ed Hours, Men of Hope, and more, to increase our fruitfulness for the kingdom. If we aren’t sure of how we have been gifted, we can learn by taking SHAPE class in the Fall or Spring. Then, as we consider our lives as opportunities to steward the grace given to us by Christ, we will find ourselves joyfully giving our lives to see the kingdom grow and our King be praised.
In our context, there are a few men I want to highlight who are great examples of how to steward God’s grace for the edification of the body. Tristan Heller and Matt Levere are two men, among others, who use their gifts of service to bless Sunday worshipers, serving faithfully on hospitality. Michael Bolland faithfully uses his organizational gifts to help people with covenant memberships. Joel Stegman faithfully invests his gift of leadership to develop other men as leaders through Men of Hope. These are but a few of many men at Hope who we see using their gifts of grace to see Christ glorified.
Christ has given us all gifts to use, and he will return to tell us “Well done, good servant!” (Luke 19:17). As we invest the grace we’ve been given, we put the generous nature of Christ on full display, and God is glorified. Because Christ has risen as conqueror over sin and death, we too are victorious, and we know that our labor is not in vain. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:56–58).