Our Stewardship articles come from http://www.lcms.org/stewardship. Here at St. Matthew's, we take our work in our church, communities, and at home seriously. We strive to dedicate ourselves and our purposes to the betterment of all around us, to the Glory of God. We pray that God guides our hands and our hearts in their work.
In the April 2018 issue of StewardCAST, LCMS Stewardship discusses stewardship based on Exodus 35.
The idea that God has blessed every congregation with more than enough resources to carry out the ministry of Word and Sacrament is viewed through the story of the Israelites being instructed by Yahweh to build a tabernacle (a place to worship him).
The newsletter reminds individuals and congregations there are ample resources to do ministry anywhere the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and the Sacraments are administered according to their institution by Christ.
St. Paul teaches, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6).
And again, he says, “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13–14).
In other words, ministers of the gospel are supported by the offerings of those who are served by them. And this is how the Church lives even now. It is standard practice.
But this deserves closer examination. For it instructs us not just that we are to give but also what we are to give. And it does so with four little words: “In the same way …”
St. Paul is building his case for supporting the preachers of the Gospel with the sacrificial giving of individual members on the example of the Old Testament people who supported the Levites with their offerings and sacrifices.
We’re to support the Gospel ministry “in the same way.” But how did the Old Testament people support the Levites?
Moses records this: “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22–23).
The Levites were supported by the tithe, 10 percent of all the yearly yield of that which was harvested.
Does that seem like a lot? Does it surprise you that St. Paul instructs us that we are to support the New Testament Gospel ministry “in the same way?”
If it does, ask yourself: is the Church’s job in the New Testament bigger or smaller than the Levites’ job in the Old Testament? Back then there was one Temple, and the ministry was almost exclusively located in one nation among the descendants of Abraham.
Jesus calls us to teach and baptize all nations (Matt. 28). And there are churches and ministries all around the world. How could we support this new Gospel ministry with anything less than the Israelites supported the Old Testament ministry?
Of course, we are free to give more, for we have received more than those in the Old Testament. We have received the fullness of God’s revelation, the fullness of His salvation, the fulfillment of everything that God promised to do.
For we have received Christ, God’s own Son, in the flesh, who took upon himself our sins and in exchange gave us his righteousness. The Father claimed us as his own in Holy Baptism.
He gathers us together in the place where his name dwells to feast on the first fruits of the resurrection, the risen and living body and blood of his Son, our Lord, Jesus. He reminds us that we are His, that all things are ours because we belong to Him. He blesses us here in time with physical and spiritual gifts.
In the same way, and in response to his fatherly divine goodness and mercy, we gladly give to those who proclaim to us “the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”
For once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have indeed (1 Peter 2:9–10).