Stewardship. You’ve heard the word in church, but do you really know what it means? Let’s take a look at this vitally important concept and how to apply it in your life.
The dictionary defines stewardship as:
1. the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc.
2. the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.
As a Certified Financial Planner™, I have a fiduciary responsibility to do whatever is in the best interest of my clients. You could say that I’m a “steward” of funds they’ve trusted me with – someone who helps them manage their financial affairs.
In a similar way, humanity is to manage God’s resources in a way that glorifies God. It’s not our money, it’s God’s. Therefore, we are all stewards of the wealth that God has entrusted to us.
Money is Only a Tool
Don’t assume every steward is a good steward. Some stewards look after their own interests, not the interests of their master. A lot of how we view stewardship has to do with how we view money. Is money evil? Is money good?
The straightforward truth is this: money is a tool that can be used for good or bad purposes.
Consider bricks. Yes, bricks. They can be used to build a beautiful building, or they can be used to break windows in an attempt to steal valuable items. Like bricks, money can be used for good or evil. Remember, money is a tool – it’s not inherently good or evil. It’s what we do with money that matters.
Stewardship in the Bible
Stewardship goes back to the very beginning of the Scriptures, when:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. – Genesis 2:15 NIV
Picture that. Here’s Adam in the Garden of Eden – a sublime paradise – and God tells Adam to work it and take care of it. In other words, God appointed Adam as a steward of the land that the Lord had made.
Jesus also talked about stewardship:
The LORD answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” – Luke 12:42-44 NIV
The Bible also shows us that we’re not to love money, but we’re to love God and use money for his purposes:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV
God calls us to have the proper perspective on money. It’s not ours, we’re just in control of it because the Lord has entrusted it to us. Remember, nothing you might say you “own,” even your body, is yours:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
The Stewardship Mindset
Stewardship extends beyond just tithes and offerings – although those are important too. We are to be good stewards of all our possessions.
Having the stewardship mindset will not only improve your giving, but it’ll affect your spending and day-to-day activities. The stewardship mindset is one that recognizes that you don’t really own anything, you’re simply managing it for a certain period of time.
Stewardship and Building Wealth
Many Christians struggle between stewardship and building wealth, thinking that they mix like oil and water (not that well). To the contrary, you can pursue wealth while keeping the proper perspective and using it for the glory of God. But be careful, wealth can be deceitful:
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. – Mark 4:18-19 NIV
Don’t make money your idol. Seek after the Lord.
Remember: Perspective is everything. How you think about money matters, because it will result in actions.
If you view money as a means to achieve selfish ambitions, you’ll misuse the resources God has entrusted you with. If you view money as the Lord’s, you’ll think twice before every purchase, asking how Jesus would spend the money instead.
It’s okay to build a solid financial foundation, accumulate wealth, and strategically plan your income sources. Just make sure that you do so keeping in mind that all money is the Lord’s, and you are to use it for his glory, not yours. Amen?
What does stewardship mean to you? Leave a comment!