Stewardship - Believe
As we continue our Believe series, I’m curious, how many of you are experiencing something during the week that coincides with the Believe topic? I am. This week is stewardship and I get hit with a stewardship issue. Coincidence?
Before we get into stewardship, I want to mention something briefly about last week’s topic, compassion. Regarding compassion, some of us want to know the ROI (return on investment). If I show compassion, what will it produce? How will the person respond? We put compassion and outcome on a scale and try to determine if compassion is worth our time and effort.
That’s called calculated compassion – I’m not sure that’s Biblical. Our responsibility is compassion; what happens after that is up to God. So, let’s just get that out of our heads that we are responsible for results. I mention that because our topic this week is stewardship, and the same principle applies -
Our responsibility is to manage (steward) our lives well - the outcome is God’s responsibility
- not ours. We manage, He does the rest.
The key idea: “I believe everything I am and everything I own belongs to God.”
Everything I am and everything I own belongs to God.
That belief comes from
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Now what we say we believe and what we truly believe (i.e. how we live) can be quite different. So, here are some questions to ponder.
What do I have that God does not have the right to?
What do I have that I have more authority over than God?
What do I have that I have more wisdom than God so as to manage it better than God?
Are there any incongruities in our stewardship (what we say and what we do)?
Some may be wondering, what is stewardship - well, let’s answer that.
What is Biblical Stewardship?
Stewardship in Scripture literally means to manage an estate. The steward doesn't own the estate, but he or she manages the estate on behalf of the owner. We can trace this all the all the way back to
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
“To work” means what it means – to labor, toil, to put effort into. “To keep” means to watch over, guard, protect, to be attentive to. Of course, God also told Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the earth.
This is God’s design. God did not create humans to be lazy sluggards …. He didn’t create us to sit around and eat Bon-Bons and watch YouTube all day. We are called to manage His creation well (His creation includes people, this church …). Stewardship is labor intensive.
So, let’s define stewardship like this -
1) Biblical stewardship is the diligent and intentional care and management of God’s estate.
What is God’s estate? We just read it in Psalm 24 – Everything. Resources, time, talents, health (how we care for our bodies), finances, entertainment, church participation, children, families ….
If Biblical stewardship is the diligent and intentional care and management of God's estate, then answer this – how am I doing?
Can God, right now say, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
Now, here’s a principle we need to understand.
God’s unlimited resources does not qualify me for unlimited access.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
The way I read this is we can pray for 1 million dollars all we want, knowing that God has it - but if we can’t manage it, if we haven’t been faithful with what we do have …. As we prove faithful, God increases His blessing - which then increases responsibility.
Please understand that good stewardship of our lives and all we have is a critical part of Christianity and maturity in Christ. Every follower of Jesus Christ is called to mature in Christ - to grow in knowledge, faith and faithfulness, discipline etc. The longer we walk with Christ and in Christ, the better stewards we should become. Got to ask, am I a better steward …. I am a much better manager of my life than I was in my twenties - some of that has to do with age, but a lot of it has to do with this next truth.
2) Biblical stewardship is less about method and more about attitude, consistency, Lordship and love.
Our attitude toward stewardship reveals what kind of a relationship we have with Jesus Christ. Let’s do a quick attitude check - spectrum ….
Let’s talk attitude:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
A) The attitude of stewardship is all about Christ.
If you think it’s about stuff - missing the point. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, I am to arm or train myself (my mind) to think like Jesus (Rom. 12:2). I don’t want to think like me - Chad don’t think right. The only way to think like Jesus is through prayer, meditation on Scripture and hanging out with people who think like Jesus. The more I think like Jesus, behave like Jesus, mature in my faith, the more I will steward like Jesus – the earthly passions will diminish and be replaced with the will of God.
This attitude comes from Jesus gave His all for me, for us - so who am I not to give my all to Him – including how I manage His estate?
B) The attitude of stewardship is all about the Gospel.
Again, not about stuff ….
Notice verse two again:
As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Let’s ask ourselves a question:
Who’s will is dominate in my life? God’s or mine?
Do the decisions and choices I make reflect my will or God’s will? Again, stewardship is a life-management issue.
What is God’s will? Jesus came to preach the good news - and the good news is that people can be saved, reconciled to God, free from sin and death. Go back to 1
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Therefore, whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God. Give no offense both to Jews and to Greeks and to the church of God, just as I also please all people in all things, not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of the many, in order that they may be saved.
Do you see the attitude of stewardship here? Stewardship is not about God micromanaging what we have, but it’s about us managing well so that others can know Jesus Christ. And the truth is, how you and I manage what God has given us will either help advance the gospel or hinder it (2% of Christians tithe). If we can’t do what God asks us to do because of mismanagement … (health, money, time …).
Let’s talk consistency:
C) Consistency in stewardship is more important than perfection.
What does that mean? Several things. 1 Tim. 4:7 tells us to train ourselves to be godly. The idea of training involves progress, growth, learning, improving - it even setbacks, mistakes - but the idea is through discipline, we become more godly. Stewardship is a part of training ourselves to be godly - part of the journey. Again, as we grow in Christ, we should become better stewards.
This is more of a life lesson than a biblical principle - I do my best to manage my time, my health etc. wisely and biblically. There are times I mess up. Overbook …. Just this past week, God womped on me. Tuesday woke up early with a massive headache and dizzy. Went back to bed - got up later, went to a District meeting - moving slow all day. Went back to the office and sat and prayed - all God’s doing. It was a warning to get my head back in the game, refocus on Him, get priorities straight …. The Holy Spirit was getting me back on track. Wasn’t sin - wasn’t willful disobedience - just got off the path a little. Not about perfection, but about being consistent and adjusting course, learning ….
D) Stewardship is all about LORDSHIP.
This is connected to attitude, but we need to address it separately. When we say Lordship, what do we mean? God is always on the throne - that’s never an issue. The issue is what throne we bow down to. Who really is Lord of our lives?
It’s really a submission issue - to whom do I submit? To Christ as Lord or someone or something else? It’s really a pride issue. To refuse to steward my life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is to tell Him no - I’m not doing it your way.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Who’s Lord? Who am I not to …? Who am I to hold onto His money, His time, His temple …?
E) Stewardship is all about Love.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The greatest issue concerning management of our time, talents, money, resources ... is a love issue. It’s difficult to love God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength when we’re in love with possessions. When we’re in love with self? Truthfully, Stewardship reveals how much we love God. It reveals what we believe about God and the Bible. Our management of everything God has given us will reveal to everyone else who we love the most - God or self.
Stewardship effects everything and everyone.
From my journal:
“The attitude of stewardship is one of taking very good care of that which is not mine. What is mine? Nothing. What is under my care? Everything. True biblical stewardship is the attitude that I will do my best to manage and tend to what God has give me.
“The heart of stewardship is love - to love my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love my neighbor. Stewardship really is a love issue and a relationship issue - not a possessions issue.”