Stewarding Gods Grace
December 01, 2009 | Seeds
By Blake Weaver
In his book titled The Prodigal God, Tim Keller writes,
Elisabeth Elliot recounts an apocryphal story (not in the Bible!) about Jesus that conveys the difference between a results-oriented selfishness and a faithfulness born of love:
One day Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I’d like you to carry a stone for me.’ He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulations for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: ‘Follow Me.’ He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, ‘Now it’s time for lunch.’ In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, ‘I’d like you to carry a stone for me.’ This time Peter said, ‘Aha! Now I get it!’ So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, ‘I can’t wait for supper.’ Jesus then said: ‘Follow Me.’ He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, ‘Now everyone throw your stones into the water.’ They did. The he said, ‘Follow Me,’ and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, ‘Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?’
I’ve thought a lot about this story recently, and unfortunately I believe it portrays my heart all too often. Although this results oriented perspective truly transcends many aspects of my life, I especially see its impact in the area of my generosity towards others. Sure, I absolutely enjoy giving to others. In fact, it blesses my soul. Hudson Taylor even said, “The less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.” I have certainly experienced the happiness and blessing that Mr. Taylor describes, and what a great feeling it is!
I suggest that this “prosperity gospel” mindset is dangerous, and caution must be employed. It is quite easy for me to give with the mindset that I will receive happiness and blessing. This has assuredly been the primary motivational driver for me in the area of giving. However, the more I consider this motivation; the more I am convinced that it is quite self-centered and results-oriented. It certainly reveals whom I am giving for.
So, what does a life of generosity spurred by a faithfulness born of love look like? I believe that Peter addresses this in 2 Peter 4:10-11. He says:
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
As I ponder the words of Peter, I have concluded that happiness and blessing are simply bi-products that Christ gives to me when He is glorified. Thus, the motivation of my generosity should be nothing more than my heart’s desire to steward God’s grace so that He may be glorified! Christ desires me to be generous for Him, just as Ms. Elliot described Christ asking His disciples to carry a stone for Him.
Elliot, Elisabeth. These Strange Ashes. New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1975. p. 132.
Tim Keller. The Prodigal God. New York, NY: Dutton, 2008. p. 51-52.
Randy Alcorn. The Treasure Principle. Multnomah, 2001. p. 21.
New American Standard. AMG, 1990. p. 1653.