The Bible is replete with theological tensions that we are called to tread and manage as part of our journey in Christ. Some of those tensions include being in the world but not of the world, and also the stewardship of resources.
Jesus uses money as a primary representative of stewardship not just because it is something tangible, but also because it has a quantum value that we have an objective perspective on; in Roman times, a denarius is a denarius, and in our time, a dollar is a dollar.
He tells us not to serve mammon, and we understand it to mean that we should allow ourselves to be “driven” not enslaved to the need to “work for money”, because God provides. In saying that, the Bible also tells us to scorn laziness and that he who does not work should not think that he should eat. In the same breath, we need to also have the “freely receive, freely give” mindset, and be aware too that we are being measured for our stewardship not just spiritually but materially as well. The parable of the talents presents this point with clarity.
Balancing these two on the give-grow see-saw is an art that we need to master as we journey with Christ. We are called to live a life that gives. In the same breath, we are also called to grow the life that we have been given. Both are equally as important and both are measured on a balance.
From time to time, God reminds us not to overweight either part of the balance. The apostle Paul writes that God has given seed for the sower and bread for the eater. If you consume what is meant for sowing, soon enough you will not have sufficient for harvesting. On the other hand, if you sow what is meant for eating, whilst conventional wisdom suggests delayed gratification, overdoing so might result in malnourishment, and disease might set in.
Whatever it may be and however we choose to steward the give-grow see-saw, we should not operate out of a mindset of lack and poverty, nor allow greed and self-preservation to seep into our modus operandi and tilt that delicate balance. None of these mindsets glorifies God.
Lastly, I like how the Holy Spirit operates in nudging us towards both sides of the equation. At times, He moves us to give more than what we are giving. He tugs at our heartstrings and moves us to become the answer to a prayer that someone else prayed. Other times, He opens the doors for us to sow and grow.
Such is the beauty when we live in a divine relationship that flourishes with such a flow in giving and growing!