The subject of Bible Doctrine is vast, stretching to and fro throughout all of life, culture, history and even into the present. So far, in this series, we have covered topics that range from the creation of the earth, to the incarnation or the reality that God became flesh in the Person of Christ Jesus. We have talked about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His divine help in spreading the gospel to the entire world. But without the Doctrine of stewardship and understanding; not only have we been given a lot, but a lot is also required from us, we will stand before Christ on that, yet coming, judgment seat with only folly to show for what He has given us.
It’s important for us to understand that, though we have been given much, we are also held to a higher standard to have done something with what we have been given. Squandering the goods God has given us isn’t an option. In this session we will talk about what a steward is, how stewarding is actually worship, and what it means to steward with our talents. There is no need to stand before Christ on that final Day and have nothing to show for what He has entrusted to you. You can have confidence on that Day that you have done well with what God has given you, but it requires excellent stewardship on your part.
What Is A Steward?
Jesus’ life was stewarded perfectly. He spent the first 30 years working in an honest job of carpentry, the same profession as His earthly father, Joseph. Even though Jesus was poor, He paid His taxes and gave generously to those around Him who were in need. Then Jesus served His Heavenly Father by doing what He called the works of His Father for the last 3 years of His life. Jesus’ life is a model for our lives, as well, when we look at the subject of stewardship.
Jesus’ generosity didn’t stop when He left earth, in fact it increased. After He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to help us come to the knowledge of Him and to empower us to share His life with others. He also prays for us night and day, making intersession for us at the right hand of the Father. And on top of all that, He is also building a place for us that where He is we can be also. This God of ours is generous beyond comprehension. Because Jesus is our model, and because Jesus was a good steward, He also requires those that serve Him become good stewards as well. I say become, because this isn’t something that we are innately born with, but something that we learn.
In life we can either be an owner or a steward. The difference between the two is that a steward sees their lives as belonging to God and an owner sees their life as their own. Every person fits into one of those two categories. Either we are working to rightly manage and increase what we have been given, or we are doing our own thing, calling our own shots and making our own decisions. Stewards gladly understand that they belong to God. When we really think about it, everything that we have didn’t come from us and it’s not going to end with us. It’s a gift that’s been given to us, though we have had to work for it, it’s still be a gift that God has given us.
A steward understands that everything belongs to God. The Bible says that God owns all the silver and all the gold and the cattle on a thousand hills. Stewardship sees everything as belonging to God and not to us. This means that we are working to take care of those things that are around us and have been given to us, so that we don’t find our self neglecting the gifts that have been given to us. Some people falsely assume that they’ve worked hard for everything they have. They say this with an owner mentality not with a stewardship response. Stewards understand that the gifts they possess that have helped them generate wealth are gifts from God. That book that you wrote and cashed in on, was a writing gift from God. That business deal you made that put you way ahead financially was actually a leadership gift that God has given to you. That new invention that’s changing the world was a sharp analytical mind that God has given you. It all starts and ends with Him, not us.
Stewards also work to faithfully oversee what God has given into their oversight. Stewards don’t see their time, talents and treasures as something for them only, but something that God has given them to share and use for the good of themselves and others. So often, with an owner mentality, people can be under the impression that they only have to do the bare minimum. Stewards on the other hand don’t ask how little they can do and get away with it; they see how far God will let them go. It’s not about doing the least and being happy with it. It’s actually about doing as much as God will allow us to do and being happy with it. Whatever we do is going to pale in comparison to what Jesus did on the cross and in His incarnation for us. Stewards seek to love God and serve Him and others in the way that God loved us and served us and others. And finally, stewards know that they deserved hell, but have been given heaven. I work to remind myself daily that God rescued me when I was totally and utterly lost. Remembering where I have come from helps keep me motivated to keep going where I am going.
How Is Stewarding Actually Worship?
There are two main groups in the body of Christ when it comes to money. There is the poverty group and the prosperity group. Now, there is another group in the middle of the road that takes a balanced approach to money but you don’t find too many that fall into this 3rd group. This 3rd group takes the approach that being poor doesn’t bring glory to God and being overly rich and spending the money on you doesn’t bring glory to God. We want to find ourselves in the middle of the road. Having money isn’t as much about what we can do with it, as it is what God can do with it.
Now, it’s true that God wants us to enjoy our money, our lives and our families so we don’t want to go into the ditch that we never do anything fun for ourselves, or take care of the needs that we have. It’s the living over the top lifestyles when we don’t need too that Jesus hasn’t called us to do. Having money and wealth isn’t the issue. It’s what we do with what God has given us. The folks in the poverty camp say that Jesus was poor and had nothing and the prosperity groups say that Jesus, even on the earth, was wealthy beyond understanding. Again, finding a middle of the road approach is a great thing to do right here. We understand from the scriptures themselves that Jesus didn’t have tons of money, but was able to trust God to provide for Him in cases where He was taking care of others.
It is estimated that 25% of what Jesus said had to do with the resources that God has given us. And there are over 800 references in both the Old and New Testaments that speak about resources, budgeting, saving, investing, debt and tithing. Matthew 6:24 says;
“No one can serve two masters; for either they will hate the one and the love the other, or else you, will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth as regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship).”
What Jesus is telling us in this passage is that we will either worship our wealth, or we will worship God with our wealth. It’s a powerful thought that we are doing either one or the other. Meaning we are either worshipping our wealth or we are worshiping God with our wealth. There isn’t another option. This is what Jesus has said to us, and He knows better than we do. Jesus, who has dealt with billions of people throughout world history, knows from personal experience what He is saying about our wealth and what we tend to do with it. Our hearts are bent on serving our wealth as opposed to serving God with our wealth.
When we love money, we will use people; but when we love God we will use our money to serve people. When I gave my life to Jesus I did it in a Church that had been around for about 60 years. It was because people gave their time, talents and treasures to the Church that I was able to find Christ. Little did anybody know, that this young man from 3 hours away would get saved on a Sunday morning and end up pastoring that very Church some 10 years later. I was able to find Christ because a group of people gave what they had to serve others and help the cause of Christ move forward in Pacific county. This is all because Christianity is a pay it forward movement. We are sowing what we have into the body of Christ because we are doing it both for ourselves and for others. We are paying forward for what God has done in us, so that He would do it also in others.
Look at what Paul has to say in Philippians 4:18;
“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”
When it comes to our giving of wealth as being worship before God, there isn’t a better passage than this one. For those of you that give on a regular basis, when you read this passage it makes you think that though you are giving your money to a local Church, you’re actually sending up fragrance of worship to God. This is a sweet smelling aroma to God and it pleases His heart as we trust Him with our wealth. When we give of our wealth to God we are actually sending worship His way and telling Him that we trust Him with our lives and that which is most important to us, our money. This moves His heart.
When you give your money to God do you see it as an act of worship, or just something that you do for the Church? When we see Jesus as our treasure it’s much easier to lavish our wealth upon Him in an act of worship. When we work to hold onto stuff and keep it for ourselves and create a drive to get new things, we end up seeing down the road that more stuff didn’t make us happy, but it actually lied to us. It lied to us by convincing us that more stuff will make us happy, and this isn’t true. If you’re stuck in your relationship with Jesus and you don’t know where to start, trusting Him with your wealth is a great place to begin. This is something that’s very dear to you and when you can learn to trust Jesus with it, your heart will follow Him in due time. Trusting God with our money is one of the best ways that worship Him.
What Does It Mean To Steward With Our Talents?
Every person has been given a set of skills or talents and God expects us to use them not for ourselves so much as for Him and others. This doesn’t mean that we don’t benefit from our skills, but it’s that we don’t keep our skills to ourselves and instead share them with others. Our talents are a mixture of both natural skills and spiritual skills that God gives us. Now if you are not a Christian, meaning you have never fully given your life to Jesus you don’t possess spiritual gifts, only natural gifts. Those of you that have given your life to Christ and are Christians you possess both natural and spiritual gifts.
When you become a Christian sometimes instead of God giving you a totally new set of skills and gifts, He takes what you have and enhances them. But sometimes He gives people totally different gifts than what they have as far as natural gifts and skills go. Natural skills can range from writing, drawing, talking, building, dancing, video production, music, teaching, arts and many more. Spiritual gifts include wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues and other various things that God gives to His servants. God gives them to His people as He chose’s and as it pleases Him.
Within Christianity there are several groups that believe different things when it comes to spiritual gifts today in the Church. The first group is called the “Cessationist’s.” This group believes that supernatural gifts (prophecy, tongues, and miracles) functioned only in the early Church and are not practiced today. God speaks, but only through the Bible.
The second group is called the “Continuationist’s.” This group believes that spiritual gifts are given to every generation and should be practiced today, but always tested by the guidelines of the scriptures. The third group is called the “Charismatic’s.” This group believes that supernatural gifts are given in every generation. Contemporary revelations are valued but always secondary to scripture and are based in the scripture. Supernatural manifestations are sought, but must show the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And the last group is called the “Charismaniac’s.” This group believes that supernatural gifts are given to every generation. Contemporary revelations are in effect more valued then scripture. Dramatic supernatural manifestations evidence God’s presence. Though each of these has some shreds of truth and Biblical support, I personally fall under the 2nd and 3rd category.
As a Christian leader I believe that the gifts are for today and that the Holy Spirit still releases power through Christians and among us through the manifest presence of Jesus Christ. I believe in angels, demons, miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues and demonstrations of the Kingdom of the God. But, at the end of the Day, we value the Bible as the central foundation for all of those experiences to stem from. If I can’t find it in the Bible and it doesn’t lead people into the worship of Jesus, I don’t need it or want it. We want encounters with God and His messengers that lead us into a deeper revelation of the central figure in God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ.
It’s very important that you talk to Jesus about your life, your money, your gifts and how you are using them for His kingdom. There is coming a Day when you will stand before Jesus and give Him an account for what you have done with what you’ve been given. The beauty of that Day is that it’s yet coming. It’s not here yet, and if you’re reading this, then you have time to make the changes that are necessary. The only way that we can become a good steward of what God has given us, is to ask Him about what we have been given and how we are currently handling it.
If we ask He will tell us and He is faithful to do that. His passion is that we wouldn’t suffer any loss when we stand before Him, but if we don’t ask Him He often doesn’t say anything. Although He always wants to talk to us about these things, if we don’t listen and allow Him entrance into our situations, then we will miss out on our opportunities to make the changes that are needed. When you stand before Him, you will no longer be able to make any changes to the way that you have spent the strength of your life. Make those changes today, and take it serious. Don’t just shrug this off and move on to the next thing. Take ownership, repent and ask for help to rightly manage what He’s given you. Remember, He’s the hero, not you. Let Him save you from loss.