Editor’s note: Monthly articles from LCMS Stewardship Ministry will now be hosted here on The Lutheran Witness site. Visit the “Ministry Features” page each month for additional stewardship content.
This stewardship homily is based on Psalm 24:1 was originally preached at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Davenport, Iowa, as part of a service celebrating the culmination of a stewardship effort that will lead the congregation forward into a bold future in faithful Word and Sacrament ministry.
I want you to take just a moment to identify in your mind your most prized possession. Is it your home? Your car? Maybe it’s your children? There are no wrong answers. I want to identify that thing that you value most in your life. Can you see it?
What if I told you that I could prove that that thing you prize most doesn’t even belong to you? Here is what God says about that thing! “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1). Your most prized possession belongs to someone else! It isn’t yours. And if you continue to think like this, remember we have a word for claiming ownership of something that belongs to another!
But lest you think you are a thief — I know that there is a reason you have that thing. God has entrusted it to you for a purpose. In fact, this is the purpose for which you were created. …
You were created by God in His image: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26–27).
The original Hebrew for image means “reflection.” You were created by God to reflect His will among creation. Reading further in Genesis, we hear: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). This means that dominion and subjection are not about our power, but God’s glory. We reflect His will in our world by reflecting His generosity.
We see that exquisite generosity most clearly at the cross. There God gave His one and only Son for people like you and me, who regularly claim not just God’s stuff as our own, but also His place as Lord! When we think we own things, we are not just miserly or cheap. We are idolators! That isn’t a good reflection.
But remember where we started? I am baptized! Paul reminds the Galatians and us, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). This means you bear a new image. You bear the image of Jesus. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). You bear that as you are the generous reflection of God’s love and mercy to those around you in the world.
This means we are stewards of the Gospel of the One who was the perfect Steward where we are the failed stewards. He gave it all for the world and you. This generosity happens here in the offering plate. But it goes well beyond these hallowed walls. When we are generous with people, especially those who seek to share the Gospel with others beyond [our church], we are truly giving thanks to the King! “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee” (LSB 783).
LCMS Stewardship ministry features may be reprinted with acknowledgment given to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.