Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Biblical Stewardship: Introduction

This blog post is the first of many in a series of posts related to Biblical stewardship.

The concept of stewardship encompasses every aspect of our lives, and most of the time we don't even notice its affects. Some call it "good will" or "good deeds", but that mindset only covers the things that we do for others. True stewardship, which is based on the Gospel, is not just about conservation and saving the environment. Neither is it about one's outward appearance - appearances fade quickly, revealing one's true self. Stewardship goes far beyond any service that can be done for someone, and it doesn't just mean to lead others. Those are completely people-oriented. 

Many people, including Christians, get confused on the practice and doctrine of Biblical Stewardship, mainly because in many American evangelical churches, the word stewardship isn't even uttered. American Christians have seemingly made it into something that's accursed, yet the Bible speaks to its very practice for all Christians. In addition to this, the secular definition of stewardship only adds to this confusion. Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as "conducting, supervising, or the managing of something - the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care." Try also this definition: "an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources, which is applied to the environment, nature, economics, health, property, information, and theology" (Wikipedia). The problem with these secular definitions is that it fails to include the main source of all our being: God. Stewardship without the presence of God is just good works. If we are only doing good works, service, and using our talents just to be using them, then what good are they to God and those He's called us to serve?

The definition of Biblical Stewardship that I like is this - the understanding that God is the Creator and Owner of everything in existence (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1), including ourselves. With such things God has allotted each of us (skills, talents, possessions, and resources), He has commanded us to manage those things, for His glory and honor, and not for our gain. 

Characteristics of a Biblical Steward

1.One that has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives: You can't be a servant, a follower and a lover of Jesus if He's not living in you. You also can't biblically steward if you don't revere the Master and Owner of the very things that God has given you. Romans 3:10 states, "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one". There's nothing about ourselves that makes us good on our own, and apart from God, our works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We are all born with a sin nature - we have a want to do sin (Romans 3:23). In order to be a Biblical Steward, good works apart from God aren't going to make the cut.

2.A biblical steward understands that God is the Creator, Owner and Master of all things, including and especially ourselves: God does what He wants, when He wants to do them. Who are we to question God's authority? So many Christians fail to remember that we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price, and are commanded in light of that fact, to "glorify God in our bodies and in our spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19 &20). Everything that we do, and everything that has been given to us, has been given to us by God for us to manage. We own nothing - we just managers of what God has given to us. If that really sunk deeply to our beings, we would do everything that we normally do completely different, completely surrendered to God and to glorify and honor Him. I will talk more about this in a future post in this series.

3. A Biblical Steward is one that is willing to be led by Jesus Christ, no matter what direction He leads: So many Christians today are willing to follow Jesus, but only as long as it takes them down the path that they want to go. Are you one of those Christians? You can't follow God if His Word isn't in you. Reading the Bible, listening to the voice of God, and applying / living out what God has commanded are all essential in being a Biblical steward. 

No matter what season of life God has placed us in - singleness, marriage, being with or without a job, having children or being empty nesters - God has called each of us to steward everything He's given us to His glory and honor. Remember, it's not about us, but to magnify His name and make His name known throughout the earth.


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