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"Understanding the Spirituality of True Stewardship - God's Love In Action."

An excerpt from Chapter 3: Stewardship - It's All About Love

the author discusses God's love

 

God is love. If He ever ceases to love us, then He would cease to be God. His very nature is love.

Everything we do for God and with God must be motivated by our love for Him and for others. Jesus said that in addition to loving Him, we must love our neighbor (Luke 10:27).   Stewardship is love in action.

To better comprehend the meaning of true love, let us consider the four (4) Greek words for love:

Eros -- is the word used for sensual or physical love. Eros was the Greek god of love. This word does not appear in the New Testament. It is the root of the English word erotic.

Stergo -- means to feel affection, especially the affection between parents and children. It is also used for the affection of a people for their king or a dog for his master. It does not appear in the New Testament, except in compound form in Romans 12:10 (Philostorgos) where it is translated as "devoted." The negative form (astorgos) appears in Romans 1:31 ("heartless," "unloving") and 2 Timothy 3:3 ("without love," "unloving").

Phileo -- is the general word for love and affection. It is used for attraction of people to one another without regard for family relationships, such as Philadelphia, the love of a friend or brother, a feeling as in 2 Peter 2:17. It is frequently used in compound forms and, as such, may be used for attraction to inanimate objects -- Philosophia -- the love of knowledge, Colossians 2:8.

Agape (noun) and Agapao (verb) -- is the word reserved for Godly love. This special significance really comes in the New Testament period. Agape is not found in secular literature, at least to any great extent, during the biblical period. Agape is the only form of love that originates from God.

God Demonstrates His (Agape) Love to Man

During one of the lowest points in man’s history, which began after the entrance of sin into the world, God continued to show His love towards Adam and Eve. The Bible says: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD" (Genesis 4:1). They continued to trust in the Lord and to look for demonstrations of His continued love for them. God used the system of stewardship to demonstrate to Adam and Eve, and to every human being that would follow, His everlasting love for the human race.

God implemented the system of stewardship for our benefit and not for His. We are the ones in need of a reminder of God’s love and care for us. God’s system of stewardship required the repentant sinner to bring a sacrificial offering to the altar. The act of offering the sacrificial gift on the altar symbolized the death on Christ on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. As we follow the principles of stewardship in our lives, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God has made a way of escape from the penalty of sin, because of His agape love for us. Christ paid the price when He willingly gave His life on the cross for our sins (John 19:33-35).

God’s love for us was demonstrated to the entire world at Calvary; it was Christ’s sacrificial gift to God. During His life on earth and even unto His death, Christ demonstrated His adherence to the principles of stewardship. When He told His disciples that they should give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and give back to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21), He was reinforcing the principles of stewardship in their minds.

Regardless of how high we may value the sacrifices that we bring to the altar, they pale in comparison to the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross for us. God’s sacrifice was motivated by His agape love for us; our sacrifices to Him should be motivated by our agape love for Him. The Holy Spirit manifests the agape love of God in our hearts, which allows us to become faithful stewards.

We Have an Opportunity to Demonstrate Our (Agape) Love to God

Whenever love is understood and appreciated by the recipient, it evokes a response to the giver; that is the power of true love. When the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds concerning God’s love towards us, He motivates us to a holy response that is based on love; agape love restricts us from putting a value-limit on our gifts to God.

Stewardship is a test of our love towards God. When we are fully committed to the principles of stewardship, we no longer constantly monitor the clock when we come into His presence to worship Him; we no longer search the deep corners of our pockets or purses to find a dollar to put in the offering plate. Instead, we find ourselves planning our activities and budgets around God and not in spite of Him.

God Uses Our Sacrifices to Benefit Others -- Love Extended

In Luke 7:36-47, the woman actually presented her sacrifice to God. As the oil anointed Christ’s feet, it was consumed and the fragrance arose to Him as a sweet savor. This signified that Christ had forgiven the woman’s sin, and she had experienced the birth of God within. Every time we follow God‘s principles for true stewardship and bring our sacrifices to the altar, He still consumes our offering; these sacrifices can be in the form of our possessions, our time, our influence, or our talents. We, in turn, receive the birth of God in us.

When God consumes our offering today, He uses it to further the spreading of the good news of salvation and to provide for the needs of someone we may never come to know. When He consumes our offering, we experience "the birth of God in us”; Christ comes and makes His abode with us, in our heart, through the Holy Ghost.

Final Thoughts

Agape love looks beyond the faults in the individual and sees the need. Therefore, when we were still in sin, God saw that we needed a savior and He sent His son to die on Calvary as the sacrifice for our sins. The phileo love looks beyond the needs of the individual and sees the faults. When the disciples saw the blind man (John 9:1-3), they immediately enquired of Christ “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They looked beyond the need of the blind man and saw his sins. Sometimes instead of allowing God to use our abilities and possessions to help others, we chide those less fortunate than us because of their circumstances. Stewardship allows us to look beyond the faults of our neighbors in order to supply their needs, just as Christ did when He healed the blind man.

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Understanding the Spirituality of True Stewardship