Stewardship as a Response to Grace
Why did Moses need new stone tablets "like the first ones"? Because Moses smashed to pieces the original tablets (see Ex 32:19). Exodus 32 describes how the people of Israel grew weary of waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai; he had been gone for 40 days and 40 nights, and the people thought that Moses was dead or long gone. So Aaron, Moses' brother, led the people in idol worship, gluttony and, very likely, sexual immorality. When Moses came down form the mountain and saw what was happening, "his anger, burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces." The words of God were destroyed.
But a few chapters later, we find God commanding Moses to make new tablets on which God would write the words that were on the first tablets. Can you imagine a greater act of mercy, love, forgiveness and grace? After all that had happened, God still desired to communicate with the Israelites.
Moses' response to the Lord's gracious action was worship (Ex 34:8). Today our response to God's salvation should echo that of Moses. Yet when authors John and Sylvia Ronsvalle conducted a three-year study of money dynamics in the American church, they determined a surprising lack of correlation between grace and giving.
The area of theology, attempting to move from the law into a sense of the grace that ought to define financial giving patterns, has apparently been difficult for the church in the United States throughout its history. Robert Wood Lynn commented from his historical studies, "I don't think American Protestants have come close to a scriptural view of God's grace in stewardship. We are a law-ridden people, and the law is becoming more and more important as a means to move us. Why haven't we given more for 140 years? I don't think the American churches have been able to understand the full meaning of the gospel for this area of stewardship. We've been denying this for an awfully long time. It raises the whole fundamental meaning of the gospel. It is not only duties and obligations; it is also grace that can set us free. Then discipline can follow."
Lynn suggests that it is enormously difficult to talk about grace and the subject of financial stewardship, partly because it is so seldom talked about. "Grace is the central reality out of which we can begin to understand what we are to do with these resources. We have to get a conversation started on faith and money. We must not let this be interpreted as another spiritual assault where people are reminded they are selfish and greedy. We already know that. We need a setting in which we can talk about the meaning of money in our lives and discover how much it dominates our lives. We can use this as an occasion to understand again the whole meaning of the gospel. We cannot use grace in order to raise money. But rather we are going to the topic of grace to use this as an occasion to rethink what is the meaning of the gospel this time."