For many Christians, when we hear the word “stewardship”, we instantly relate it to the topic of money. In Christian circles, we’ve heard stewardship and money being tied together in many different contexts. It’s typically used in association with capital campaigns, budget conversations and fundraisers. But God’s Word paints a much broader picture of stewardship. The biblical view of stewardship applies to every Christian and every area of life. Instead of looking at how scripture applies specifically to our financial lives, we’re going to turn the focus away from money and learn how stewardship is about so much more than just our finances.
The following recording is from “Mornings with Kelli and Steve” on Moody Radio Indiana (97.9 FM). For more information on Moody Radio, go to moodyradio.org/indiana.
How can we broaden our understanding of stewardship and what it means to be a steward?
We see stewardship defined very early in scripture and learn two very important aspects of it right in the book of Genesis.
In Genesis 1, we see that God was the creator of everything. He spoke it all into being, so he was the Creator and owner of it all. In chapter 1:29, we see that he also made Adam and Eve and put them in charge of all of creation and they were told to manage (subdue) it for His glory.
- Principal #1 – God is the owner of everything and Adam and Eve were simply managers of it according to His will.
In Genesis 39, we read about Joseph and his role as a steward.
Genesis 39:6 – “So he [Potiphar] left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.”
The word used for stewardship here literally means ruler of the house. Joseph didn’t own anything, but was placed in charge over everything that Potiphar owned and was to manage it according to his wishes.
- Principal #2 – Stewards are to be faithful to the desires of their master. Doing a good job requires an intimate knowledge of their master.
So, we know that God is the one we’re serving and we need to be faithful to His wishes. What direction does scripture give us in relation to being faithful to His plans?
All we have to do is look at the last words Jesus spoke in Matthew 28 before He left to see what He considers to be of high priority.
Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Jesus told His disciples to preach the gospel to the nations. This coincides perfectly to what we see in the Parable of the Talents just a few chapters before.
Jesus is the master who went away and He left us in charge of something valuable. That thing of great value is the gospel message. Our primary job as stewards is to manage the gospel well in His absence because one day He will return. We don’t know when He’s going to return, but we ultimately want to be found faithful when He does.
As with any job we’ve ever had, one day we’ll be held accountable for how we’ve done that job. When it comes to stewarding God’s resources, what does scripture say about how our service will be evaluated?
Let’s go back to The Parable of the Talents to see that answer. At the end of the parable, we see the master (Jesus) return and the faithful servants are not commended on their results, but on their faithfulness. He doesn’t praise them for how much they made, but instead says, “well done, good and faithful servant.” He praises their effort, not the result.
This is perfectly in line with what we see in 1 Corinthians 3 when it comes to the gospel:
1 Corinthians 3:7-8 – “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.”
As we think about our stewardship role, we know that our primary job is to steward the gospel well. We do that by faithfully sharing it. God is sovereign and He will take care of the results.
Once we recognize that stewardship of the gospel is our most important responsibility, how does that change the way we manage our other resources, like money, time, etc.?
In Colossians 1, Paul writes about completely pouring himself out in stewardship of the gospel.
Just like Paul, as faithful stewards, we should place a priority on our stewardship of the gospel. When we do that, suddenly everything else in our lives will be viewed as tools used to that end. That will impact all aspects of our lives, including how we raise our children, spend our money, manage our time, and even how we care for our bodies. It’s all God’s and like Joseph managing Potiphar’s household, we’re trying to use God’s resources according to His wishes for His glory, not ours.
Brad Graber, CFP® has been working with clients on personal financial planning and investment issues since 1996. He invests his time mentoring and educating individuals on ways to be better stewards of the resources God has entrusted to them.