IT ALL BEGINS WITH A RELATIONSHIP
“I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:10
In the First Reading for February 19 the Lord tells His people, whom He is forming into a great nation after four hundred years of slavery, why they are to do the things that He is telling them to do.
Why are they to be holy? Because He, the Lord their God, is holy.
Why are they to care and to provide for the poor and the foreigner? Because He is the Lord their God.
Why are they to not steal, not deal falsely, not lie, not defraud their neighbor, not render an unjust judgment, not go around as a slanderer, and not profit at the expense of others? Because He is the Lord.
It all begins with a relationship. Our relationship with other people begins with, is based upon, and is shaped by our relationship with God – who He is, what He has done, and who we are in relationship with Him.
Reminds me of Luther’s explanations to the Ten Commandments. They all begin with, “We are to fear and love God so that . . . .” The reason that we are to honor our parents and not kill, steal, commit adultery, bear false witness, and covet is because of our relationship with God – because we fear and love God.
Reminds me of Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostles Creed. The reason that we are to thank, praise, serve, and obey God is because of all that God has already done for us.
It all begins with a relationship. And a life of stewardship also begins with a relationship.
The congregation where my wife and I are members held their annual meeting last Sunday. One of the actions at that meeting was the approval of the budget, or spending plan, for 2017.
But my giving is not based upon the budget. Rather it is based upon my relationship with a God who owns it all anyway because He created it, who has given me everything that I have, and whose love for me motivates me to express my love for Him in a generous way. Even if the budget were fully met, even if there were no additional ministries that our church wanted and needed to do, even if all special projects had already been completely accomplished (which they are not), and even if the mortgage were all fully paid off (which it is not), I would still need to give – because of my relationship with God. I give to needs. But even more I need to give to acknowledge that He is the great giver and to show my love for Him, who gave Himself for me.
It all begins with a relationship.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE