The Biblical Concept of Stewardship

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The real issue of stewardship is whether we are administrating our affairs and possessions as though they are ours or as though they are God’s.

The New Testament word for stewardship is oikonomia, from which we derive the word economy. This word means “management of a household,” and it refers to the responsibility that is entrusted to a manager. A steward acts as an administrator of the affairs and possessions of another. Stewards are fully accountable to their masters and may act justly as did Joseph who became Potiphar’s steward (Genesis 39:4-6), or unjustly as in Christ’s parable of the steward who squandered his master’s possessions (Luke 16:1-13). As Christians, we have been entrusted with a stewardship; the things we call our own are not really ours, but God’s. We have no possessions, and we do not even own ourselves: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; cf. 3:23). Since we belong to Christ, we no longer have the right to self-determination.

God is our Master, and we are responsible to manage His possessions and affairs. Because we are His servants, all that we have is His. This explodes the popular misconception that we give God His percentage and the rest is ours. According to Scripture, we are accountable to God for everything. Whether we have much or little, our key responsibility as His stewards remains the same: faithfulness. “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the amounts differed, but each slave was entrusted with something. The rewards were not based on how much they were given, but on what they did with what they were given. Significantly, the first two slaves were equally praised, though the first was given five talents and the second was given two. We must resist the temptation to compare ourselves with others, because comparison is the basis of all dissatisfaction. What matters is not how much we have received, but faithfulness to what God has given us and called us to do (Luke 12:42).

When the topic of stewardship comes up, most people think of only one area—money. But from a biblical point of view, stewardship is all-inclusive. It touches every area of life, including our time and talent as well as our treasure. Stewardship is faithfulness in using whatever God gives us (opportunities, interests, skills, employment, family, talents, spiritual gifts, land, money, etc.) for His glory. The theme of stewardship ranges from Genesis 1-2 when God made the man and woman stewards of this planet, to Revelation 21-22 when God will make His children stewards of the new creation.

If biblical stewardship involves every facet of life, it requires a basic commitment on our part: we must present ourselves to God as His servants, with no conditions attached. The real issue of stewardship is whether we are administrating our affairs and possessions as though they are ours or as though they are God’s. The pattern of our lives is shaped by the decisions we make, and the greatest of these decisions is this: Am I the lord of my life, or is Christ the Lord of my life? We will either seek to rule our own lives (the tragedy of the first Adam), or submit to the rule of God (the triumph of the second Adam). This is the difference between the great I WILL (Isaiah 14:13-14) and the great THY WILL (Matthew 6:10; Mark 14:36). Whether we realize it or not, we face this decision many times in the course of each day. Our answer to this question will determine how we manage the time, abilities, money, truth, and relationships God has placed under our care.

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth

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