Fast cars, fancy clothes, elegant watches, season tickets to sporting events and the local theatre - all of these are the spoils of war in today’s corporate culture. However, they are all idolatry. I know, I struggle with this sin the most. The privilege of having a career that spins off dollars like leaves falling from trees can really challenge your perspective and your judgment. Pretty soon, you may find as I did - there is never enough. This lifestyle of excess has us doing and spending for the simple sake of wanting others to see how great we look and what influence we can buy. All of this spirals out of control as the need for more never gets truly satisfied and we keep worshiping our own pride while our greed feeds the dysfunction.
Have you ever been sucked into the unending cycle of wants that far exceeds your needs? Are you a business owner or leader that puts yourself on display for the staff after you get the new car or the front row tickets to the big sporting event. Are you posting all of your spoils of war on social media just to be noticed? If so, your challenge is not unique. Your challenge was shared by religious royalty - and Jesus adjusted their judgment just as he adjusts our own.
When I was first exposed to the story of the widow’s mite in the 21stt Chapter of Luke, I read it completely out of context. I saw that a poor woman gave more as a percentage of her own wages than those that had great wealth. I had not considered the larger lesson Jesus was trying to give me. As I read the text leading up to the example of the widow I was struck by the behaviors that Jesus noted of the Sadducees.
Jesus put a spotlight on the greed and prideful habits of the religious royalty of the time, the Sadducees. These religious leaders were struggling with the same sin with which I struggle. These leaders put themselves on display with flowing robes and lengthy prayers, they garnered attention by long greetings in public places, they put themselves in positions of prominence by taking the important seats in the synagogues and banquets, and lastly they continued to seek more money by taking from those of little means.
When I read this in full context, I can see that the struggle of the religiously powerful of their time is similar to the struggle of the socially powerful of our own. I can see that those of us in leadership positions can misuse the gifts we have been given for our own gain. I can see the focus easily shift from a heart for God and stewardship of those great treasures He has given to a focus on our things and us.
To underscore this lesson, Jesus shows us the example of the widow that gave a large portion of her own possessions. Since the value was small compared to others, her giving was driven by worship and obedience rather than pride and greed. She had nothing to gain socially and a lot to lose financially for following through in her own obedience.
So now what? Do we simply give it all up and live a life as a pauper? Maybe yes, maybe no. As I learn from this lesson I am continually challenged to understand the true meaning of stewardship and learn how to apply it to my daily life. As a Christian business owner or leader you have been entrusted with much. You have been entrusted with a business that can have an enormous impact on others for the good or the bad. If we all understand true stewardship we will focus our attention on the Creator, be thankful for the resources we have and ask Him what He would have us spend them on. We need to turn from our own selfish ways so that we are more likely to have an eternal impact on those in our businesses, families, and community.
We are truly blessed to be in business. We are truly blessed to be saved from eternal separation from the one and true God. If we were to really understand this spirit of stewardship and change our own behavior the resources we could put toward God’s kingdom on earth would be astounding. Imagine what your giving would look like if you settled for a simple sedan and not the luxury SUV or if you stopped buying imported suits and selected something on sale instead. What if you donated your season tickets to a family that couldn’t afford the popcorn? These acts of stewardship would demonstrate how grateful you are for the gift of salvation that you have received as a Christian. These are the fruits of the Spirit that demonstrate your changed heart and you would be in continual worship to the One that paid the price for you!