Stewardship Research Part IX
This discussion section centers on an inductive analyses of 2 Corinthians chapters eight and nine. We will also look at principle passages with an inductive analysis of key precepts.Principal inductive precepts
As Christians who take the Bible seriously, we also need to take to heart the seriousness of being a wise steward. Stewardship is an act of worship and gratitude by the Believer, in response to His grace. In so doing, we acknowledge God's power and authority over our lives. This leads us to realization of and response to His love, by caring about what He brings into our lives. This includes everything--our relationships, spiritual gifts, time, material goods, our monies, and even our very being. This act of stewardship is in response to the marvelous gift of His amazing, wondrous Grace given to us. We begin by being thankful, and our thankfulness leads to the care of everything in our lives. Thus, our gratitude for what we have leads us to faithfully take care of the business of life. Gratitude is also worship, and our response to God for first loving us.
In my experiences and observations, I have observed, with sadness, that most people in evangelical circles do not see stewardship as important. A common response to the subject of stewardship is that all we need to have is a good heart, or be sincere in our faith. Our money, and how we manage life is irrelevant. But, is this true? Is God only concerned with our heart? If so, what does that mean? Well, when you read the Bible, you can see that it has a totally different definition of stewardship than what is popular in the church today!
God is concerned with what is in our hearts, and a good heart has responsible character assigned to it. That is what being a good steward means. This is shown to us by our role in taking care of creation, the testimony of the Law, and the Psalms, to name a few. Stewardship, in Hebrew, means "house law and rule." It means that the person who is hired is to manage the affairs for the owner. This means that the property, resources, money, and previsions are under the steward's control and responsibility. They belong to God, and are entrusted into our hands. Thus, all dimensions of management are under the word and theme of stewardship! So, all that we do in the affairs of our daily life is under stewardship too! Is God concerned with what is in your heart? Yes, He is, and being a good steward will show that you have a good heart!
Thus, as good stewards, we cannot be wasteful. Being a bad steward was under penalty of death in Biblical times. Fortunately, we are under grace, and Christ's atonement covers us from God's wrath when we mess up, but that does not mean we are to be careless. We are not to go around thinking all we need to do is think we are good, just as we cannot think we are good at our job or school, and be late all of the time, or slack off. We have to think carefully about the most prudent way to allocate and manage the gifts and resources He puts in our care! This is in response to what He has given to us--abundant grace and love, and His mercy and care. We must understand that being bad at stewardship is wasting what God has given, and even wastes our lives, and opportunities, too! We are just to have a good heart? If you are not responsible, chances are, no, you do not have a good heart.
Stewardship means we must take care of His world carefully, honestly, diligently, and faithfully in the character as revealed in His Word. It means remembering that God gives us everything, including Himself. So, how do we manage all of this with Biblical precepts and principles? One good way to view stewardship is to see what He gives us as a loan. We are to manage it with the attitude of giving back to God, of honoring Him, just like the Parable of the Talents teaches (Matthew 25:14-30)!
One of the key principles I want to get across to you is the difference in what we have, and what God has. We basically have nothing; we own nothing, we earn nothing, we gain nothing. God is the true owner of all things; He is the One who owns it all. Consider this. When you die, will there be a trailer with all of your stuff following you to the pearly gates? The answer is, no! After all, your eternal reward is far, vastly superior to what you have here. Even if you were Bill Gates, with billions of dollars, and were able to take it all with you, once you got to Heaven, you would not want to even look at it, much less keep it. As it would just be like rotting stinky junk! Would you rather pick a nonworking rusted car from a junkyard, or have a brand new luxury car? What God has for you is far better than what you would want to take! All you would end up bringing is trash (Deuteronomy 8:18; Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16-20)!
The Egyptians believed that they could take it with them, but if you go to the Museums in Cairo you will see all of their grand stuff still there, here on earth! We have to see life as a training ground for eternity; we are given property, material possessions, gifts, abilities, and most importantly, relationships. It is what we do with these, what we learn from them, and what we impart to others that will become the true treasure. It is not the deed, title or pink slip; it is not the bank statement, or our brokerage account that matters. It is what we do with what is temporarily given to us that is important. That is where the treasure is earned, and learned. God is the owner; we are the managers. Let us use and manage His goods wisely, to prepare us for what is still to come (Psalm 49:16-17; Matthew 16:27; 25:21-23; Luke 19:12-19; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Corinthians 4:16- 5:10; Revelation 20:6).
When we give, we are giving what is not really ours to begin with. It is not ours to keep, nor is it something we would even want to bring with us to eternity. We give what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose! This is authentic stewardship in action, and the real practicing of our faith. It is the practicing of our faith that is inseparable to the exercise of what we are given. These two combine synergistically to build our maturity, and our standing before our Lord. You cannot build your faith while ignoring your responsibility, just as you cannot build your faith by just focusing on material goods, even if you are doing it faithfully. Material things are not wrong to have when viewed rightly. It is when we think of them as important that is considered stupid in God's eyes (Proverbs 23:5; Matthew 6:19-21; 19:21-30).
© Research from 2001- 2004, revised 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/