Are you one of those rare individuals who can give a definition of biblical stewardship?
If you grew up in the church, like I did, you probably heard a lot about stewardship — and it was mostly about money! But, as I examine scripture, I think it is mostly about something else. When you discover what stewardship truly is, it will change the way you look at your life — and provide a measure of freedom and peace.
What is Stewardship?
First of all, the word ‘stewardship’ never occurs in the Bible, although the concept of stewardship fills the pages of scripture.
Quite simply, the word means management.
As a follower of Jesus, you believe that God created everything in existence. As Creator, he is also the owner of everything. But, he has given us the keys to creation. In Genesis 1:28, he commissions mankind to have dominion over creation. This is our mandate to responsibly manage all the resources at our disposal.
We also have a commission to be stewards of the gospel. The message of salvation is not to be hoarded but given to others. Our spiritual gifts are for the benefit of others. God gives us these things not for our ownership but for the benefit of the kingdom of God.
Everything comes from God. We are stewards — managers — of these incredible treasures!
Three Things to Manage
Time. Our lives are a gift from God. Every day is a gift from God. One of our greatest responsibilities is to manage our time. It is also the most equal of all resources. No one on earth has more than 168 hours a week! How are you using your time? Do you give God time each day for conversation? Are you using time wisely to serve the needs of the kingdom? Do you willingly give your time to do the things that Jesus asks you to do?
It is important to examine how we use our time. It may be necessary to simplify so you can honor God with your time and your energy.
Talent. Our talents, abilities and spiritual gifts also come from God. If you are using them for his purposes, the reward he gives is great. Jesus gave us a parable about the importance of multiplying all he has given us to. You can read that story in Matthew 25:14–30. Even though the talents described in the parable refer to money, the principle is the same. We are to thrive as followers of Jesus, using what he has given us to full success and abundance.
While the gifts, abilities and talents vary from person to person, we all have them! Ask God for help in managing these things.
Resources. In our culture, this means money and all money can buy. You have probably heard a lot about the tithe — 10%. Leviticus 27:30 states that a tithe of everything is God’s. Malachi 3:10 tells us to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and promises abundant blessing when we do. The New Testament seems to be silent on the tithe.
However, when you read closely, you see that God is honored and glorified with far more generous giving than just 10%. We are to give joyfully and generously (2 Corinthians 8:1–7, 9:6–8).
Where to Start; Where to Go
If all of this is pretty new to you, you may be wondering where you start and what is next. So, two simple steps that worked very well for me.
Full commitment. You won’t get the peace that comes from being a good steward until you have fully committed to the process. The firm decision to live according to the standards of biblical stewardship is your starting point.
Steps of faith. Many years ago, we had moved into a new house, had a car payment along with other financial obligations and were convicted that we weren’t giving as we ought to give. We looked at our finances and realized that there was no way we could give a tithe. So we started at $10 a week. After a while, we found that it was easily affordable so we doubled it. Again, our giving caused us no hardship, so we increased it again. In a short period of time, we were tithing — and even more — because God had blessed us. Mostly he had given us wisdom to be better stewards of the 90%!
This is how we worked to be better stewards of our finances. I have taken the same steps with my time and talent as well, committing more of myself to do what God has called me to do.
Good stewardship gives a reward of peace as you follow Jesus. I was discussing stewardship with a friend of mine one time. He told me: “I don’t dare stop tithing. God is blessing me and if I stop, I believe I will lose the blessing.” He was right. God does bless us as we are good stewards.
What’s next for you?
If you have made a full commitment — and you probably have if you’ve read this far — start taking bold steps of faith to become a good steward. Examine your finances, your time and your talents. Make a plan to give back to God and honor him with all you have.