First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, November 14, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
As you know, today is Stewardship Sunday; so instead of continuing our sermon series in the book of Acts, I thought it might be a good idea to take a break from Acts this morning and spend a few minutes reflecting and thinking together about stewardship.
Although stewardship is dealt with as “a season” in most Christian traditions today, it should be understood as a way of living. At the heart of stewardship is a deep conviction that we are not owners, but stewards. Everything we own belongs to God; our time, our talent, and our treasure – they all belong to God. God entrusts all these things to our care, and we are to faithfully mange and oversee what God has already entrusted to our care. Someone said that it’s a little hard to swallow the thought that it all belongs to God. It’s a little hard to swallow the thought that we are stewards not owners.
I think one of the great stewardship stories in the Bible is the one we just read from the gospel of Matthew chapter 26. Matthew tells us while Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a broken, sobbing, unnamed woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on His head as Jesus was reclining at the table.
This story teaches us a great deal about our understanding of stewardship. As we reflect on this story, I want to underscore two important observations for us this morning. These two observations should help us capture the true meaning of stewardship.
First: Stewards realize the Generosity of GodStewardship begins when we as followers of Christ realize the generosity of God. This is the essence of our scripture lesson this morning. There are at least two other similar stories found in the other gospel accounts. I don’t believe they are all the same. Luke tells us in chapter 7 about a sinful woman who did the same to Jesus. John also tells us in chapter 12 that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, did the same thing to Jesus. In these three different incidents, one thing in common: stewardship flows out of a deep faith in a generous God. Stewardship stems from an awareness, a deep realization, of God’s abundance in our lives.
Luke’s account of the anointing of Jesus is followed by a parable that has a great message. In Luke 7, Jesus told the story of two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed the lender five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay the lender back, so the lender forgave the debts of both.” Jesus asked the question: Now which of them will love him more? Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” In Luke 7:46-47, Jesus commented, “You have judged correctly, Simon. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Stewardship begins when we realize the generosity of God.
Second: Stewardship is an Act of Devotion and WorshipOften times, we don’t think of stewardship as an act of devotion or worship. Unlike praising, preaching, or praying, giving is not always seen as an act of worship. In our story this morning, we are reminded of a great truth. Stewardship is an unspoken act of devotion and worship.
“Devotion” is defined as “giving your best to someone or something.” If you’re devoted to your marriage, you give your best to your spouse. If you’re devoted to your job, you give it your best. Same thing, if you’re devoted to the Lord, you’re supposed to give the best unto the Lord; not the leftover, but your best.
In presenting the alabaster jar of this very expensive perfume and pouring it on Christ’s head, the unnamed woman in Matthew 26 gave her best to the Lord. You may know that in ancient Israel, the value of this very expensive perfume was equal to more than a year’s wages. So it was an act of deep worship and profound devotion to the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I invite you this day to dedicate and consecrate ourselves anew to the Lord. May we know this day that all what we are and all that we have belong to God. So as we fill in our 2022 Pledge Cards and joyfully offer them to the Lord today, may they reflect the generosity of God in our lives. May we also remember that giving is an act of worship, devotion, and love to our God.
Friends, let’s go an extra mile to honor God’s name this year. Aware of how this radical generosity made many feel uncomfortable, Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 26:10 &13, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me … Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Our commitment today is one beautiful act for God in response to His generosity and His loving kindness. Be assured that the Lord will never forget all the beautiful things you do. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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