The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is most often associated with weddings, not with stewardship. But could there be a generosity message here also?
While a traditional definition of stewardship is time, talent, and treasure, some thought leaders are encouraging adding temperament to this list. Generosity is indeed a matter of the heart and attitude. A good steward has a faithful, hopeful, and loving heart.
Faithfulness—not size, status, wealth, or heritage—is God’s measurement for Christians and congregations. All of Christ’s disciples and all of Christ’s congregations are called to be faithful to God’s mission and purpose. Generosity is a faithful act of discipleship, wrapped in trust in God and God’s purposes, whether we see them clearly or in a mirror dimly.
Hopefulness is a basic Christian characteristic. Despair and hopelessness can be damaging to congregations and their members. God offers the victory of hope through Christ and the Holy Spirit. To have a future we must live with hope. Generosity is a hopeful act of discipleship, made as a statement that God is still at work in the world, and we partner in these acts of redemption through our generosity.
In verses 4-7, the apostle Paul unpacks love’s characteristics: patience and kindness, and a lack of envy, boasting, arrogance, edginess, resentment, and bullying. Christians and congregations must experience and share love that looks like this. It is not optional: it is imperative. Generosity is a loving response, made in gratitude for God’s love for us, and celebrates a unity in Christ that surpasses the difficulties that seem to work so hard to divide us.
The apostle Paul concludes this chapter by telling us that faith, hope, and love last. During a congregational stewardship emphasis, you will encourage support of your mission and ministry through the sharing of time, God-given talents, and financial resources. This is as it should be. But in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us that even if we practice generosity that leaves us with nothing and even requires our lives, if those incredible gifts have not been given in the spirit of love, the giver has gained nothing. Make sure you have not only talked about money and the need of the church to receive it, but also invite persons to give faithfully, hopefully, and lovingly.
Help your church practice Faithful, Hopeful, and Loving generosity in 2020 and beyond with the Faithful, Hopeful, Loving stewardship resource. You’ll get three stewardship emphasis timelines (year-round, spring, and fall) and all of these materials:
- Preaching Resources
- Worship Resources
- Children’s Sermons
- Adult Studies
- Youth Studies
- Extras such as suggestions for small churches, generational giving characteristics, social media templates, invitation letters, and giving charts
And digital files to create your own
- Bulletin Inserts
- Commitment Cards for adults and children
- Bulletin Covers in letter and legal sizes
- Letterhead and Envelopes
- Affirmation Cards for electronic gifts
- Logos for print and digital applications and banner creation