Several months ago, when myself and two other guys started planning the teaching schedule for our upcoming class on biblical stewardship, we came up with subjects like finances (of course!), gifting, time, and creation (the environment). It was not much later when we added technology as a theme to consider. One of the guys (who is incredible with alliterations), came up with time, technology, treasures, talents, and trees. It was gorgeous – on paper and on the promo poster we put up in the church lobby.
The focus of the class was seeing how we as Christians who desire to be faithful stewards of what God has given to us apply our Christian principles to these subjects. How should we as Christians steward our time, our finances, our abilities and desires, etc? You get the point.
Honestly, the list of subjects kept growing weekly as we taught the class and the students kept giving feedback or asking questions. It is a broad subject that encompasses everything we do and have. At the end of the class, we emailed a four-page bibliography of books (primarily), podcasts, videos, and interviews, that could be utilized if one wanted to dive deeper into any one of the subjects.
Almost every week, we started each class by quoting both Scripture and Tim Challies as part of our introduction. First, I Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” Tim Challies says, “The principle of stewardship is built on two simple premises: God owns it, and you manage it.” Our desire to be faithful to God requires us to remember that we are not the owners of anything, we are the created ones and God is the owner and creator of all things. Our time is not our own to manage, our finances are not ours, and our bodies are not ours to say what we can or cannot do with them. They are all God’s.
Deuteronomy 10:14 reminds us of this when it says, “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” Since all things are the Lord’s, and since the Lord allows us to manage parts of it (like stuff, offspring, and opportunities), then the question is what is the goal or purpose of our stewardship. Why doesn’t God just take control of it? Why leave it to us mere mortals to manage?
I found some help to that question in 1 Peter 4. There Peter writes with exhortations to believers in exile in how they should relate with one another. They should be loving, hospitable, self-controlled because the end of all things is near. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the church could live this way towards one another? We would stand out as a distinct and attractive community that anyone would want to be a part. Then, Peter writes and says in verses 10-11, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
With the gifts we have received, we ought to steward them in such a way as to serve others and bring glory to God. We, who have received the grace of God in manifest ways, ought to steward this grace and these gifts in order that others are served well and God is glorified. That is the purpose or reason that God has allowed us to manage them. Not so much that we are making more on our investments or being more productive with our time (although those might help our purpose) but so that others are served and God receives the glory.
These two goals sound very much like the two great commandments Jesus gives: love God and love others. Right? It sounds like Philippians 1:27 which states only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel. That is then followed up by Philippians 2:3-4 which says we should in humility consider others more significant than ourselves and look to the interest of others.
It also sounds like the Westminster Catechism question #1: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
The goals of stewarding everything is quite similar to the goals of the Christian life. Right? Glorify God and serve others. We see this all throughout the commands of the NT and OT. The goal of how we steward technology, talents, treasures, time, trees (and anything and everything else for that matter) is not for our convenience, so that we appear holy, or because we read a good book on it, but that we might serve others and glorify God.
Maybe I should think of that the next time I am considering my financial portfolio, my iPhone usage, what we are eating this week, and what I do with my days off. How are we stewarding what God has given to us?
In the following weeks, I hope to give you a few quotes and some applications to the topics we covered in this class. I was helped quite a bit in my preparation for the sessions I taught and the sessions taught by my friends, and I hope that you will be as well. Pro Rege!