Holland Methodist Church

Month: October 2022

Lesson From A Canny Manager

The parable recorded in Luke 16:1-15, and generally captioned, The Parable of the Shrewd Manager, can be thought-provoking if not confusing. On the surface, it appears to be about the use and abuse of money or possessions. Here we witness the actions of a canny employee, about to be fired because of mismanagement. There is no mention of the actual deed; however, it is made evident that he used his control over his employer’s possessions to acquire the friendship of his subordinates, so that he could secure himself against an uncertain future.

He decided to “cook the books” by reducing his master’s debtors’ invoices by 25% on wheat and 50% on oil. This must have both shocked and pleased the debtors. If this parable is about money and possessions, then it is wise to remind ourselves that one’s attitude to earthly possessions can indicate one’s shrewdness or silliness, trustworthiness or untrustworthiness, or miserliness or generosity. So, yes! There is the very fundamental issue of honesty and using someone else’s possessions to “feather one’s bed”; but I am sensing that there is a deeper message.

The actions of the protagonist of this parable highlight the value of relationships and community. His anxiety about falling from grace and losing his job, about not being strong enough to dig, and too ashamed to beg (16:3), forced him to contemplate the alternative course of securing community support. When he was fired, he wanted people to welcome him in their homes (16:4). He did not want to become friendless. He wanted to avert his impending situation by applying the principles conveyed in the Guyanese proverb: “Hand wash hand make hand come clean”.

Human relationships and community acceptance and support are critical for meaningful existence. Humans are made for relationships; we need each other to survive. As John Donne put it: “No man is an island. No man stands alone …We need one another, so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend. The steward’s actions and intentions speak to the fact that stigma, discrimination, isolation, and loneliness are counter to true humanity. It is only through being together that can we move through darkness, sickness, divorce, unemployment, and brokenness, and become whole and healed people of God.

It is most regrettable that this man only knew the value of his community when his back was against the wall. When all was well and he was in his master’s good books, he didn’t seem to have given any thought about others. It is conceivable that he may have priced the goods unreasonably high. Now that he was heading for a crash, he quickly sought the support of the community.

For various reasons, we often find ourselves in circumstances where we need each other to survive and live meaningful lives. So, Charles Wesley was correct when he made his plea:

Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other’s cross to bear,
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel his brother’s care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve

Thought:  We are created for community and interdependence.

Prayer:      Lord, help us to always remember that we are made to embrace community all the time, and not only when our backs are against the wall. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

By: Everald Galbraith
October 2022

Christian Stewardship

Sisters and Brothers,

A month has already gone by in the new Connexional Year! I trust that we are travelling with the Lord, from the old things to the new, as the hymnist Sydney Carter suggests we do.

It is October, the month we agreed to focus on Christian Stewardship. Apart from what we will do in Bible Study, the focus for the five Lord’s Days is indicated on the circuit plan:

2nd – Stewardship of Time
9th– Stewardship of Talent (Gifts)
16th– Stewardship of Life
23rd– Stewardship of Money (material Resources)
30th – Stewardship of Earth’s Resources

A good place to start is to ask and answer the question, “What does it mean to be a steward?”

A steward is a manager, a trusted servant, responsible for seeing to the affairs of the employee. In the Bible the steward was responsible for such things as administration- purchasing supplies, overseeing the other servants, keeping records. The Greek word for steward, oikonomos literally means “manager of the household. “

The idea of stewardship is rooted in God’s Word. This biblical concept includes the idea that God is the architect of an entire household. To be included in this household means participating in the new life which emerges from God’s constant process of creation. A place in the family of God implies devotion to the welfare of all who are included.

As Christian Stewards, we recognise that:

  1. God is Creator and Owner of everything. The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it (Psalm 24: 1) This principle is seen clearly in Genesis chapters 1 and 2;.
  2. Human beings are called to be managers- stewards of God’s world. (Luke 12: 16 – 21)
  3. The human is not the owner but is given dominion over all that God created and owned. (Gen. 1: 26ff); Gen. 2: 15)
  4. Human beings are responsible and accountable to God for the management of God’s creation, including the very life that God has entrusted to us. (Mat. 25: 4 – 30; Luke 12: 42 – 45)

God has honoured humans, giving us a part to play in creation. We have been placed in the God’s Garden to “dress it” and “keep it.” (Genesis 2: 15)

The Bible shows clearly that we are all stewards to whom God has entrusted such gifts as life, time, varied abilities or talents, material possessions including money, the gospel, our relationships at home, at work, in the church, etc, health and the environment.

What then is Christian Stewardship? Christian Stewardship is man’s recognition of God’s sovereignty over creation and is a grateful response to God’s manifold gifts. Man’s response is expressed his dedicated and creative use of all these gifts towards the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Christianity is a response to the love of God as revealed in Christ and expressed in terms of proper stewardship of all the resources available for the sustenance and enrichment of life. Christian Stewardship is humankind’s grateful and obedient response to God’s redeeming love, expressed by the resources for the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Let us endeavour to be good stewards who do not take God’s gifts for granted, but rather, live in grateful response to the one who so generously gifted us.

May we always praise the Lord, even as we use our gifts to the glory of God.

Yours in Christ
Joan Delsol Meade