by Bill Ellman, CCF Elder
More often than not, when we think of good stewardship, we think of how we manage our finances and our faithfulness in paying God’s tithes and offerings. But it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s more than just the management of our time, our possessions, our environment, or our health. Our stewardship like everything else we do should be biblically based. So what is Biblical Stewardship?
Biblical stewardship is not about one single aspect; it is all-encompassing, as it is based on our relationship to God. To fully understand biblical stewardship, we must first grasp the truth that God is the creator of all things and has absolute rights of ownership over all things. We are but managers of what God allows us to oversee. Nothing else in the Bible, including the doctrine of stewardship, will make any sense or have any true relevance if we miss the fact that God is the Creator and has full rights of ownership. It is through our ability to fully grasp this and plant it in our hearts so that the doctrine of stewardship is understood.
C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, states it this way: “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given to you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.”
We see an example of this relationship early on in Genesis 2:15 where God places man in the Garden of Eden to care for it. Then again in the New Testament where Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:9, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” But it is in Ephesians 3:2 where Paul takes this to a deeper level. He refers to his call from God as the “stewardship of the grace of God” for a ministry of the divine mystery revealed in Christ. Paul is portraying God as the master of a great household, wisely administering it through Paul as the obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wow, how did we get from the simple concept of being stewards of stuff to stewards of the infinite grace of God? This is because Paul is telling us that once we are called and placed into the body of Jesus Christ, our stewardship is no longer of our own abilities, but of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Otherwise our labor is in vain and the growth in stewardship is self-righteous, human growth. We must always remember the sole source of our strength is pleasing God: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Biblical stewardship is our obedient witness to God’s sovereignty. It is what motivates us as followers of Christ to move into action, doing deeds that manifest our belief in Him. Paul’s stewardship involved proclaiming that which was entrusted to him—the gospel truth. As fellow believers we are also stewards of the gospel; we have been entrusted and chosen to share it throughout the world.
Biblical stewardship defines our practical obedience in the administration of everything under our control–everything entrusted to us. It is the dedication of one’s self and one’s possessions to God’s service. Biblical stewardship acknowledges, in practice, that we do not have the right of control over ourselves or our property—God has that control. It means that as biblical stewards of God we are under His constant authority as we administer His affairs. Faithful stewardship means that we fully acknowledge we are not our own but that we belong to Christ, the Lord, who gave Himself for us.
We are stewards of the grace of Jesus Christ and stewards of the gospel message! We have the leading presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as God’s authority and blessing. May we never view stewardship the same way!
The ultimate question, then, is this: Am I the lord of my life, or is Christ the Lord of my life? In essence, biblical stewardship expresses our complete obedience to God and our Lord and Savior, which is Jesus Christ in all things.