When a church leader says he is going to talk about stewardship the church automatically expects that the preacher is going to talk about giving and tithing. Unfortunately, we do a disservice to our churches when we think that stewardship and giving are synonymous terms. Stewardship includes giving, but is not defined only by giving. Stewardship has a much broader definition that if properly understood would help us give more glory to God.
What is Stewardship?
I like the stewardship definition given by Kenneth Boa in his book Conformed to His Image. Boa observes:
…. we own nothing, and we are not here on our business. As stewards, we manage the possessions of Another; as ambassadors, we manage the affairs of Another. The King owns everything, and we are on his business to serve and represent him in the world. (pg. 243)
A steward, thus, is one who has been entrusted with something. Anything we have received from God we are expected to properly utilize, manage, and multiply. Stewardship (οἰκονόμος) is a criteria used to establish the effectiveness of God’s servants. God simply asks, was our use of the gift faithful or faithless? A couple synonyms for steward include manager and one who oversees.
Two Biblical Examples of Stewardship:
Moses is described as one who oversaw the affairs of God’s house. This house, obviously, was not the temple as the temple was not yet built. The house, thus, is a metaphor that exemplifies the relationship between God and man. The world is in fact the house of God (Psalm 24:1).
But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. (Numbers 12:7 NIV)
Even Jesus himself was evaluated based on his successful stewardship of the house of God.
He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Hebrews 3:2-6 NIV)
The House of God is his world. People who are God’s servants are entrusted with certain responsibilities.
Humans are either faithful to their responsibility or unfaithful.
When we are entrusted with something, there is an expectation of how that item will be managed.
What is the ultimate goal of stewardship?
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:21 NIV)
The one word that continues to be associated with “steward/manager” is “faithful”.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)
The goal of stewardship is to act in a way that is consistent with how God would act were he the one who was in possession of the same items.
What does God entrust to us with which we can be good stewards?
- And more …
In this post on 101 ways to give you get an idea of the many ways you can be a good steward for God.
Essentially, anything that God has given can then be used in a way that is faithful (i.e. fulfills the will of God, who is the owner) or in a way that is faithless (fulfills the whims and desires of the manager instead of the owner).
Photo by Wolfgang Staudt.
What reminds you or helps you to be a better steward?