Another Take on the Three Ts

When it comes to giving (no, not just money), one message I’ve shared for some years is this: Focus not only on our response, not even on the gifts we’ve been given, but on God, the generous Giver.

Yes, that’s true, to get the authentic, deep-down context for generous-hearted living. But at some point it’s also helpful to think about the ways we can respond to God through loving our neighbor and caring for God’s creation.

The saying from past generations has been to talk about “the three Ts” – time, talent and treasure. But even these categories don’t have to be old, tired phrases.

Time includes all three aspects of time (and different words) expressed in the Scriptures: time that moves from past to present to future, as in learning from the past, making the most of the present, and planning ahead.

Talent doesn’t have to be just the secular understanding of the word, as an exceptional ability which only some people have. It can refer to what the Bible identifies as the talents we all have: heart, mind, soul (or “life” in Hebrew), and strength (body). Exploring the Old Testament meanings of these terms brings us to a holistic context all on its own.

And who says that treasure means just money? I think of it in terms of the treasure of our passion for people and good causes, treasured memories and hopes, and the treasure of relationships in our lives, just for a start.

So even the long-standing “Three Ts” can point to a much larger reality. But I love this new take on the Ts from Lutheran stewardship leader Glenn Taibl: thanksgiving, trust, and transformation. Someone could preach and teach about these! Each one is not only a human response to life and to God – it’s also a result, an increasing part of our identity, as we grow more and more into God’s image, becoming the persons God has designed us to become all along.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub