"You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead."
This exhortation was at the heart of President Michael Lindsay's charge to the Gordon student body during the morning's Chapel service: to take seriously Jesus' message on stewardship as expressed in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25: 14–30; also Luke 19: 21–28).
"Talents can mean skills and attributes and abilities," he said, "and that's all part of the blessing that you are asked to give to others. But a talent is also a unit of money. It also means our finances.” While noting that inequality of resources is part of life in a fallen world, "the emphasis in this parable is not on inequality but on accountability; with what you do with what you have."
He pointed out, further, that "every one of us is in the '1%,'" just by virtue of being able to go to college. Lindsay referenced sociologist (and 1982 Gordon alumnus) Christian Smith's book Passing the Plate (Oxford University Press: 2008), which presents research indicating that average giving among evangelicals hovers at about 2–3% of income, rather than the biblical baseline of 10%.
"The more we own, the more our possessions grip us," Lindsay said. "They get so big we end up orbiting around them, instead of the other way around. Giving changes that gravitational dynamic. It has a way of freeing us up.
"This parable, though, is not just a story about a man with a lot of money. It's about how God relates to us, and how we condition our hearts toward God."
Referring to his inaugural address last September 16, Lindsay stressed the need to "elevate the contribution that we make to one another and to the wider world. "You can't take it with you—but you can send it on ahead."
"This morning I want to share a gift with you," Lindsay said, as ushers passed out envelopes to each student in the sanctuary. "Each of these envelopes contains a copy of this morning's Scripture reading. Put it somewhere that will remind you of this message—on your mirror in your room, in your car, backpack—put it wherever—but I want you to see it several times this week. And I want assurance that it has actually borne fruit in you life."
He then invited students to open the envelopes, which contained varying amounts of cash, from $1 to $100—a gift from his and Mrs. Lindsay's own funds.
"Most of you are receiving a one-dollar bill. Some are getting more: $5, $10, $20, $50, and a few $100. Those who have been given more have a special responsibility, but whatever the amount, I want you to take what you have been given and invest it. I want you to pray about this, to think strategically about it. I want to see 'savvy grace' happen.
"Finally, I want you to tell me within seven days—this is a short-term investment—how you have used this money to bless other people.
"I want to prompt all of us to 'enter into the joy of our master.' I want it to be said of Gordon College: 'Well done, good and faithful servants.'"