Stewardship is real and we are all given our lot in life. Some have been given more than others, while others complain more and blame others. But either way we are all called to first be thankful for where we are and what we have. We all go through seasons of prosperity and lack, sickness and health and one of the first and hardest lessons to learn is that of faithfulness and thanksgiving. Faithfulness with where we are and thanksgiving with what we have.
Faithfulness becomes a hard lesson for the simple reason of having to humbly accept our lot and working the land we have been given. Whenever we find ourselves discontent, we will find faithlessness close by. Perhaps our proverbial bedroom and closet are a mess. We haven’t made our bed for years; the TV is always on and Doritos crumbs are sprinkled like fairy dust. Piles of unwashed clothing is all over our room with stacks of started and unfinished books. Piles of trinkets are scattered throughout the bedroom leaving us a small trail to be able to get in and out of bed. This might be an over exaggeration, or it might not. In either case, how does one go about fixing this overwhelming problem?
The first step is to realize that it is a problem and needs to be resolved. Unless we come to a humble realization that this is not good, then we won’t do anything to try to fix it. Unless we submit to the fact that God cares about the state of our being, we will continue in our old ways. If we are in a place of despair and hopelessness, thinking things like, “what’s the point?” than I would encourage you to “humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:6-7). God cares about the little things. Much of the reasons for not seeing the problem is being blinded by pride. We need to first agree that fixing is needed and be not overwhelmed by the stack of work involved in resolving the issue at hand. The point is to pick one bucket of weeds daily.
Once we have come to that realization, how do we go about the solution? Well there are many ways, tactics, and methods, but perhaps one of the first ways is to take out the garbage to make space: you need space. In your proverbial room, take a garbage back and start throwing the garbage away. Things you know need to be thrown out. In the words of an arborist, “first, prune all the dead wood.” Simply taking off all the dead wood will bring in more sunlight to your tree and create better airflow. Perhaps this is today’s bucket of weeds.
But you still need more space. You may not know what the space is for or how it is to be used, but you do know that for whatever purpose, space will be necessary. Next you might want to start going through the first pile of books and decide if it is to be thrown away, put on the back-burner, or finished. The term we can use is “triage.” Triage is a medical term used in the fields of war. A medic must triage what patients to attend to because he can’t attend to everyone at the same time. Triage places each patient into one of three categories: 1. no matter what the medic does, the patient will die; 2. the patient will survive whether or not the medic attends to him; 3. unless the medic attends to him the patient will die. This gives the medic the ability to decide who to attend to first. We can do the same with our life and the projects we have started. Which ones seem to not be going anywhere? Which ones are plugging along without much effort? Which ones, unless I put effort into it, will die?
Perhaps a different approach is to simply get everything out of the hypothetical room and start with a clean slate, then once the bed is made, the Doritos are vacuumed, the carpet is washed, our walls and windows are cleaned, we can start adding things into our room that serve their purpose. Although there are different approaches to getting things in order, the point is to get things in order not the method of doing so. The point is to be faithful till the end, not faithful for one day. And once the room is put in order, the point is to use it to bless people while daily picking a bucket of weeds and producing fruit: hold a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other.
Whenever we find ourselves coveting, we find ingratitude holding hands and prancing alongside it. Many a time we find ourselves ungrateful because we fall into the trap of comparisons. We compare our cloths to our neighbors. We desire our children to be like someone else. We want our car to be a like that guy’s. We wish our garden looked like our brother’s. We are continually looking over the fence into our neighbor’s backyard while ours is deteriorating rather than working our land: we fall into coveting easily. Repentance from coveting is not just to stop coveting. It needs to be replaced with something more powerful than the sin itself and that power is doing the will of God. That will is to give thanks to God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ( 1 Thes 5:18).
We find that once we tidy up our garden, take the garbage out of our room, covetousness starts creeping in. And the way to battle and defeat this is to make a practice of thanking God. Thanking him for our pillow, our shoes, our hands, our breath, our beating heart, the people in our lives. There is no lack of thanks we can give him for from him are all things, from him we live and breathe. Giving thanks to God is doing God’s will.
Our journey doesn’t end with getting organized, this is simply the beginning. Although this is part of the journey, it is there to get setup for what’s ahead. The next test of faithfulness and thanksgiving is the marathon. Faithfulness and thanksgiving are lifelong stewardship principles which must come along with us till we hear the words, “well done good and faithful.”