What is Stewardship?
I want to take some time this morning to introduce a topic that we will be spending the next few weeks exploring. Let me just say this…when we talk about stewardship, we are talking about all aspects of our Christian lives together. There are several aspects that I think we immediately think of when the word “Stewardship” is mentioned and those are extremely important, however there is more to it than just financial stewardship. So, over the next few weeks, we will take some time to consider what it means to be good stewards of what we have been given to care for in this life.
With that being said, let’s take a moment to define the word stewardship…what does it mean to you?
Responsibility to manage all the resources of life for the glory of God, acknowledging God as provider
Draper, Charles W. with Stewart Don H. “Stewardship.” Ed. Chad Brand et al. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary 2003 : 1534. Print.
Let’s consider this formal definition for a moment. The responsibility to manage all the resources of life…FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, acknowledging GOD AS PROVIDER.
FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
When we think about all that we have been given the responsibility to manage, what are some things that come to mind?
Money, feelings, relationships, the Earth, real property, valuable resources and items, influence, opportunity…etc. So, we have been give a lot to care for, haven’t we? And I know that the first that comes to mind when we speak about Stewardship is money and we will spend some time delving into that in the coming weeks. For today, I want to get you minds out of that trap for a bit. I call it a trap because I think when we hear the term stewardship, it is the first thing we think about and I don’t want to ignore the elephant in the room…when it comes to money and hearing me speak about it, the first thought that pops up is the Pastor is going to ask for more…and while it would be nice to have more money, it is not what stewardship is in mind.
For me, stewardship is about being good stewards of all that we have been given in this world. Before I get too much further, let’s chat a moment about what it means to be a steward...
How would you define “Steward”?
How would you define “Steward”?
There is a really specific definition of what a steward is according to many Biblical stories…here is how the Bible defines being a steward...
One designated by a master to oversee family, household, or state matters. Responsibilities might include the palace (1 Kgs. 16:9; 2 Kgs. 10:5), business affairs (Matt. 20:8), or the city treasury (Rom. 16:23). The steward might also be responsible for the entire household, as with Joseph’s steward. It is with the steward that Joseph’s brothers cast their fears and in turn receive assurance (Gen. 43:19–25; cf. 44:1; Isa. 22:15). At the wedding feast at Cana, it is the steward who tastes the water turned into wine by Jesus (John 2:8–9).
The Apostle Paul refer to bishops and elders as stewards of God. They are responsible to live lives that reflect this relationship with God. An elder or bishop is not to be arrogant, quick-tempered, violent, greedy, or an alcoholic, but rather must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, be prudent, upright, have self-control, and be devout (Titus 1:5–9). In general, every Christian is a steward, entrusted with gifts from God (1 Pet. 4:10). The parable of the talents spells out in detail the importance of investing well the gifts received from God; those who do not invest their gifts well, will lose them (Matt. 25:14–30).
Metaphorically, the steward is responsible for the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). It is expected that every steward will be trustworthy (1 Cor. 4:2). One is blessed for being a faithful steward, while unfaithfulness results in judgment (Luke 12:42–44). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Steward)
Ok, so that is a lot to digest…let’s look at just one piece...
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
God has given each of us gifts, physical, emotional, and most importantly, spiritual gifts. We do not have time today to delve into all the spiritual gifts that Paul defines for us but know this, there is an extensive list that Paul provides. What I want for us to know this morning, though, is that of all the gifts we have to steward, when it comes to spiritual gifts, the most important is love. If we love God, then we should show it by being good stewards of everything that has been trusted to our care. If we love others, then we should be sharing those gifts that we have been given to help the least of these. If we love ourselves, isn’t it good stewardship to give all of ourselves to others.
Here’s the thing…in my mind, the most important thing that we should be stewards of is our minds. IF we do not control how we react, how we interact with others, and how we, to the best of our abilities, manage our thoughts, are we not wasting the greatest gift we have been given and that is our life? As we delve further into the idea of what stewardship is and how we can be good stewards, this has to be first because if we cannot manage ourselves, what is it that people will see as we live into God’s calling in our lives?
To kind of drive this point home, I leave you with a few words of one of my favorite hymns, one that I typically cannot manage to sing, and the one that we are about to sing...
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed...That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died, to take away my sin
You guys know the refrain…but God gave us so much and I have to wonder if in this world, we as Christians, have forgotten what it means to steward…we have the greatest example, exemplified and remembered in that cross and in the meal we will share this day. I think we can be, nay, I know we need to be doing better at being good stewards…Amen.