This Sunday is Calvary’s annual emphasis on Stewardship titled: Consecrated Stewards. Members are invited to place pledge cards on the altar as an act or worship and commitment of giving for the year to come. Pledge cards may also be mailed to the church office or placed in the offering plate on Sundays between now and December 1.
Many of us know the story of Zaccheus, if only because of the children’s song. He was a chief tax collector who had become wealthy by overcharging the poor. And because tax collectors worked for the Romans, it had become a source of national pride to despise those who did this work. For these reasons, Zaccheus was far from popular, and many considered him a thief. He would likely have been ostracized by others, and few would have wanted to be seen spending time with him. That is, until Jesus came to town.
Luke writes that Jesus sees Zaccheus in a sycamore tree. He had climbed up high, to attempt to see the teacher. And upon seeing Zaccheus, Jesus does what no one else is willing to do. He speaks to him with kindness and respect. And then, something found nowhere else in the Gospels: He invites Himself to dinner. From where He stands on the ground, Jesus calls up to Zaccheus, “Hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Jesus has been the guest of notorious sinners, of self-righteous Pharisees, and of faithful supporters, but only here do we read of Him initiating the invitation.
In a sense, though, this little story sums up all that Jesus does. He has come for each of us, though we are unworthy. On our own we are all far from God, unable to see him, or get close. But Jesus calls to each of us, and even invites himself over, letting us know he has come to change our lives, rescuing us from our own sin, and its destructive work.
At the end of the story, Zaccheus proclaims he will give half his possessions to the poor, and repay four times over to anyone whom he cheated. Jesus did not direct him to do this, but having experienced grace, Zaccheus desires to change the way he lives. Generosity begets generosity and Jesus’ compassion towards Zaccheus leads not just to a changed heart, but also a changed life.
This then, is the starting place for our own generosity and desire to be good stewards. We have been given much by our God, and desire to be responsible with all God has entrusted to us. Because we have been shown grace and generosity, we are moved to extend the same to others. This is what stewardship is all about, using what we have, for the good of creation, and for one another, with thanks to God for his grace.
~Pastor Mike Middaugh