Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. – 1 Corinthians 4:1-2
The term stewardship is translated from the Greek word “oikonomos”. It refers to one that takes charge over the affairs, resources and estates of another. A steward is not just given these matters to administrate but he is trusted to carry out the owner’s intention. God has not just entrusted us with things, but with the ability to represent Him in every domain of life in the use of these things. Therefore, either you are going to possess the mind-set of entitlement, claiming that the things in your possession are yours because you worked for them, hence you deserve them, or the mind-set that acknowledges that your physical being, aptitudes, time, opportunities and material possessions are all part and parcel of the entrustment of God for stewardship.
Trusting God involves much more than believing in the Gospel. The Father is intimately involved with our lives. There is not a detail of your life that does not concern Him. Trusting God is to commit oneself into the integrity of God’s character. Giving is a matter of trust. There are those who withhold from God and from His church, simply because they live in the fear of not having enough. You will never come to the point where you think you have enough to now begin giving to God.
In stewardship, how you use money is a spiritual decision. If you belong to Christ, it is only logical that all you possess belong to Him. Money has the capacity to take the place of devotion that belongs to God. That is why Jesus never compared His Father with any other entity except money. He said that we can’t serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). Mammon is trusting in your financial security. Jesus was saying that deriving your sense of security from how much you have saved is not serving God, but serving mammon, because you have not understood the purposes of the acquisition of money. God’s system for acquiring money is not so you have a safety net. It is not about merely improving your quality of life. It is for His own redemptive and salvific purposes and unless you understand that, you are not serving Him effectively.
Stewardship is about raising sons unto maturity. It takes us out of wrong thinking: from a paradigm which is self-centred to a Christocentric paradigm. We are not here on earth to simply acquire more or to improve our standard of living. God has another plan and if we trust Him, He will always care for more than just your money. I would like us to look at four pillars of the theology of stewardship:
- The Lord’s Ownership of All that He Created
For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. – 1 Corinthians 10:26
All that is fully provided, generously supplied, contained within the earth belongs to the Lord. They were placed there by Him for His own reasons. The Godhead reserves the exclusive right over all that is created. The Father created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9) thus all things created by Him belong to Him.
- The Believer’s Responsibility Over All that God Created
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:9
We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. – 2 Corinthians 6:1
We are called co-labourers together with Christ. Many of God’s sons do not consider this position thus they are empty this grace. In other words, they are depriving themselves of the benefits of being collaborators of God. God in His sovereignty has created room for human decisions to be included in His plan on earth. By so doing, He unfailingly supplies physical being, time, ability, aptitude, material possessions, opportunities to service to bring His will to pass on earth.
Our planet is in its current condition because the many sons of God who are supposed to co-labour together with Him and participate in His plan have received the grace of God in vain in this particular domain. Whatever God wants to do on earth, He will fulfil it through one of His sons who is on earth, by giving opportunities, creating spheres of influence, giving material possessions, for His will to be done in those particular domains. Without the mission of the Church fulfilled effectively on earth, the unreached will never be impacted with the Gospel. To a very great extent, the impact of the Church is limited to her stewardship.
- You are Accountable for all that is Used
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. – 1 Timothy 6:17
Paul was aware he had to give account of His stewardship (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). Your use of what you have should take into account that it is not yours, but is being overseen by God. According to God’s perspective, demonstration of faithfulness over what you have now qualifies you for more (Luke 16:10-11). The least domain where you should show accountability and faithfulness is with money.
- The Reward of Faithfulness exercised.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24
There are rewards under grace. You will have the reward of the Lord Christ. Once there is faithfulness in the use of what is entrusted to you, there are rewards involved. These include greater opportunities to serve, greater influence, greater possessions. If you are faithful over little, you will be faithful over much.
This article is extracted from the message “Four Pillars of the Theology of Stewardship”, from the series “Faithful Stewardship” by Dr. Shawn Smith.