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Our Light is Our Testimony

A generous response to God’s love

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Jerri Marr, a supervisor for the U.S. National Forest Service, became a familiar face on state and national news when wildfires ravaged Colorado in 2012 and 2013. The following is an adaptation of a message she delivered September 5, 2013, at the U.S. C&MA National Office in Colorado Springs.

People live out what they truly believe. It radiates from them and is evident throughout their lives. It’s in their talk, but more importantly, it’s in their walk.

I have learned that what God has done and still wants to do in our lives has the power to shape and, if necessary, reshape our beliefs and our actions, specifically around the topic of stewardship. So I want to tackle this question: What does God want from you?

In order to answer this we first have to go back and see what He’s already done. What has He already given me? What has He already said?

In Jeremiah 31 God is ready to bring the Israelites back from exile, and He knew there would be a little apprehension. But this is what He said to them: “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love” (v. 3; MSG). I find that people in this world are nowhere close to “love, love and more love”; they don’t even know what that means. This world offers “hurt love,” “resentment love,” “anger un-love,” “go find a new love.” They tell me I’m not worthy of love or only give me conditional love, but they cannot give me “love, love and more love.” God alone does that. So what do you do with that kind of love? First you believe it, then you receive it and then you spend the rest of your days as a living testimony to that kind of love.

This brings us back to the question: What does He want from you? An Alliance core value says everything we have belongs to God.

Does it? He wants all that you have, all you desire, all that you dream, all that makes you you. Understanding this concept has changed my perspective on life and on stewardship.

The Bible is clear that God expects us to be good stewards. But I grew up believing that all He wanted was 10 percent of my check and I was good to go with the rest. In a world this big, undoubtedly a lot of other people learned the same thing. God is very generous, but I believe He wants more than for me to just give Him back a piece of what He already gave. That is not a real sacrifice. God wants me to give my life back.

Stewardship is a testament of our love for God. We as believers need to live out our faith not just in the words we say but in how we live every day. The world is waiting and watching to see if “Christian” is just a title and whether church is just a ritual done out of obligation or if it comes from a deeply satisfying relationship with the Savior. Our testimony of faith is the light we get to share with the world.We who have experienced His incredible, unchanging, deeply filling, faithful “love, love and more love”—and hope and more hope and provision and more provision and faithfulness and more faithfulness—need to be the steady conveyers of light by our testimony, the way we live our daily lives.

Do our lives say “everything I have belongs to God”? Stewardship is more than our finances; it includes our time, our gifts, our resources, our talents, our homes and, yes, even our ministry. Everything we have belongs to God, so we need to be good stewards of all that He has given us.

There are three areas where we need to have a testimony of stewardship. First, God uses our generosity to show the world that giving is a blessing and a gift rather than a stress and a strain. There are some strongholds in our lives—selfishness, pride and greed, for example—that can only be broken through giving. God gives to us and blesses us so that we in turn can bring honor and glory to Him by blessing the world. Giving allows us to identify with our generous God. If you can’t trust God with your money, are you going to trust Him with the rest of your life? The money part is the easiest because it helps us to be like Him.

The second area of stewardship testimony involves our time. God gave all of us only 24 hours in a day. That’s it. And we live in a world where people are texting and e-mailing and talking to two different people at once. I believe their goal is to add more time to the day. Some people scare me because it seems like they’re afraid to sleep, filling up their day with busyness, work, stress and distraction. But rest is not just a nice thing to do if we get around to it; God commanded us to rest. God knew that our best requires rest and not getting enough can negatively impact our testimony of light to the world.

Resting shows the world that God is in control. This world doesn’t spin around me—and it doesn’t spin around you either. If a Christian keeps going and going, a nonbeliever might think, So where is this God you keep talking about who provides? ’Cause you seem to be doing all the work. God gave us 24 hours and made room for rest and refreshment. How are you stewarding this blessing? I encourage you to take time and rest at the feet of the Savior.

And last, but not least, how are you stewarding your influence? We need to steward our influence like money, because it has great value. Our influence is like our shadow; it goes everywhere we go. When the sun shines on you, sometimes your shadow is going to be out in front; other times it may pop up beside or behind you. Sometimes you might actually find yourself standing on your shadow. My shadow is a reflection of me—who I am and what I’m doing. The influence we have on the world is like this shadow; it is a reflection of Christ in us shining out.

What do others see in your shadow of influence? Each of us has a testimony that we share with the world every day through the way we live; don’t for one moment discount what God can and wants to do in and through your life.

We are the light in a world that’s dark and dying, lost and searching for the Savior. Steward your influence in such a way that whichever way the sun shines on you, the Son shines through you. Your shadow is a reflection of enduring hope and your deep-seeded belief that all you have belongs to God.

Offering back everything we have and all that we are to a gracious and loving God for His glory and our sanctification is a testimony of stewardship to the world that will stand the test of time.

Don’t grow weary in doing right. Take time to rest and refresh; we are heading into a new year, and God has big plans for The Christian and Missionary Alliance. But God also has big plans for us as individuals.

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