The Importance of Christian Stewardship
What differentiates people isn’t the amount of time available to them, but the manner in which they exercise their gifts and talents. Stewardship is about: faithfully developing and using our gifts, talents and resources within the amount of time God has allotted us.
God is the master; He distributes gifts at His discretion. We are stewards, accountable to Him for all we do with all we have. We own nothing. God owns everything; we are simply managers.
These things rightfully belong to Him. Our responsibility is to manage these things well, according to His design and desire. Only faithful stewards will be prepared for his return (Matthew 25:14-30).
Jesus makes it clear the size of the gift is not important. What matters is what each servant does with what he’s been given.
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
The mandate to take dominion over the Earth is for God’s glory, not ours. The use of our resources must also include our money. The wise use of money is not for temporal pleasure, but eternal security.
Biblical stewardship touches every area of our lives. It requires a basic commitment to present ourselves completely to God as servants. In the Bible, 38 parables of Jesus are recorded. Out of those, 12 deal with the subject of stewardship. That's about one third of the total parables recorded in Scripture! Evidently, stewardship is an important topic for Christians to study The good steward is one who has committed his life, lands and goods into the Lord's hands and trusts God to supply all their needs.
Definition and Meaning of a Steward
According to the Bible, a steward was one who administered the goods of another. He was the manager of the household. In simple terms, it means God made you the manager of the goods and abilities He has placed into your hands. Remember, you came into this world with nothing, and when you leave, you must leave it all behind..
Understanding the principle behind the meaning of "steward" is necessary for a proper understanding of every other typical principle related to stewardship.
Principles of Stewardship
God is the sole owner of all things. Misunderstanding this first principle leads to the sins of covetousness and discontentment. It's imperative, you don't mistake this precept.
"The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me" (Leviticus 25:23).
Let's use Job as an example. The reason Job was able to overcome the trials and losses he suffered was because he recognized God was the owner of everything he had, and it was God's sovereign right to do with those possessions as He chose.
"In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:22).
Notice Job's attitude in his time of loss was, the Lord had given, and the Lord had taken away. You will never be blessed of God and have a joyous and contented life until you understand the first principle of stewardship. Using goods and abilities God gives you for your own purpose would be dishonest.
God gives us our talents for three fundamental uses. To earn a living so we can meet our daily needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. However, having extra material things isn't necessarily wrong. Enjoying life is not wrong, as long as we don't love pleasures more than God.
Certainly, stewardship involves more than money. It involves things like time, talents and abilities. If you give your money, but fail to serve God with your time and talents, you are not an honest steward. How we manage and use things God gives us today determines what He will give tomorrow.
God returns His blessings to us in proportion to our faithfulness towards those things He has already given us. We must be faithful even in the small things pledged to us. Things like a Sunday school class, or place in the choir. If God is to extend "great" things to us, we must first be faithful in the small things.
We cannot expect to reap more than we sow. God will never give us more than He can trust us with. If we are unfaithful in managing what we have today, He won't impart extra to us tomorrow. The fastest way to increase your blessings from God is to be content with what you now have, and use it to bring glory and honor to Him.
The amount of talent, goods or funds that God gives each of us in the future is determined by our faithfulness in what He has given us today.
Only the dishonest and unfaithful steward needs to worry about standing before the master and giving account of their stewardship. If we love and serve the Lord to the best of our abilities, we need not worry or fear the day of judgment.
Basics of Giving to the Lord
A number of people today, having been disappointed by some pastor or evangelist, stopped doing the work of God. In many cases churches and ministries faced with declining offerings resorted to unscrupulous methods to raise funds. God's word is very clear on the subject of giving.
Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets. People in his day were much like us today. The religious leaders failed to preach the Word of God, and as a result God's people fell into idolatry and backsliding. Their backsliding was displayed by the fact they kept the portion of goods belonging to God.
God sent Malachi to the people. He preached concerning revival and how to get the blessing of God back in their lives. Every Christian must understand the basics of giving in order to become a good steward.
Giving to God
The foundation for all giving to the Lord is found in Malachi 3:10, specifically in the word tithes. The word means "10th part." Tithing isn't an issue of the Hebrew law. It began almost 400 years before the law was established.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
As we can see, we really don't give the tithe; we simply give that which is already God's portion. What is the result of keeping God's portion? According to Malachi 3:9, it results in the curse of God, called the sin of robbing God. If every believer gave their portion most churches would never have a financial need.
Barriers to Giving
What hinders some people from giving to God? Sometimes it's a lack of biblical understanding. This is why pastors and teachers must not fear teaching what the Bible has to say about giving.
Backsliding is a barrier to giving. When a Christian neglects the house of God, daily devotions and prayer, giving to God usually also ceases.
Misplaced affection becomes a barrier to the blessings of giving. Many have replaced their love for the Lord with a love for money and the things it can buy for them.
Selfishness is a barrier blocking the blessings that come from giving. The Bible tells us "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Yet many never really learned the blessedness of giving because they are too selfish. Giving becomes easy when you put your heart into things of God. An example would be like a mother who gives of herself to her family day after day because she has a love and devoted attachment that motivates her. Do you rejoice when you give an offering on Sunday? Or do you think about those things the money could have purchased for your own enjoyment? The blessings of giving far outweigh the losses when it comes to giving to the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:7 says,
"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
Although we can carry nothing out of this world, we were told in the Bible we can "send things on ahead." Matthew 6:20 says,
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
Our home in heaven isn't dependent upon our works, but upon God's saving grace given to us in Christ Jesus.