“The ‘commandment’ of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given.” – Pope Benedict XVI, God Is Love–Deus Caritas Est: Encyclical Letter
“If in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be ‘devout’ and to perform my ‘religious duties’, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely ‘proper’, but loveless.” – Pope Benedict XVI, God Is Love–Deus Caritas Est: Encyclical Letter
Stewardship is love.
When you love someone, you want to give to them as much as you can.
When I first became a Christian, I was taught that it was my duty to give my “time, talent, and treasure” to the church because “that’s what it says in the Bible.” And though there are many things about our faith that we know as ‘duty’ or ‘obligation,’ I think that understanding stewardship in the context of a love relationship is a more fruitful way of looking at it.
We know that we cannot love without giving of ourselves to the person we love. Indeed, a person who falls in love is compelled to give selflessly to the other. This is much more obvious in the early stages of a relationship when we tend to bend over backwards to prove our love in hopes that love is returned to us.
We eventually move past this stage and become secure in our love for the other and theirs for us. The outward expressions so obvious in the early days may become less obvious over time. A husband may not send as many flowers to his wife. A wife may not write as many love notes to her husband. They still love each other, but the expressions may change. At worst, they could feel more like obligations or become non-existent. The temptation is to take love for granted or to simply go through the motions.
It can be hard to keep the flame of love going and be good stewards in our relationships.
Knowing that God’s love for us is eternal and unconditional can make it pretty tempting to take that for granted. When that happens our giving may diminish or we simply view it as an obligation.
“There are two reasons for loving God: no one is more worthy of our love, and no one can return more in response to our love,” – Bernard of Clairvaux
Stewardship is a decision to love and it takes intentional work to keep that flame going. When a couple tries to ignite the flame of love once again after many years of marriage, the process always involves more intention.
It is the same in our relationship with God, but no one returns love more than the one who loved us into life!