True Stewardship (Part 1)

by Ron Bare

Stewardship is a frequently used word these days in many circles of life. Whether we are talking about stewarding the earth, being involved in a church, or even looking at how we spend our time and money, the word stewardship can be used in these different contexts. I fear that when we loosely use a word in different contexts, the word can begin to lose its true meaning and purpose. To understand the truest meaning of the term “stewardship”, we must go back to its origin and how it was meant to describe our purpose here on earth.

By definition, a steward is “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others; a manager.”

If you believe that the Bible is the true and inspired word of God, then you will believe that the reference above to “another’s property” refers to God Himself and that we are His managers. The Bible clearly teaches that God is the creator of all things and still is the owner of all things on the earth. This includes the land, cattle, gold, and silver – and certainly means our assets such as real estate, dollars, investments, and businesses are owned by God and that we are His caretakers. Most Christians may not argue this point and many would agree; however, how often do we contemplate the implications of this truth?

Perhaps to begin we should consider what it doesn’t mean: True Biblical stewardship does not mean how much we give – rather it has much more to do with how we manage what we do not give. After all, once we give something away it is in another steward’s hand, whether that is a charity, church, or other organization or person. What we do not give is what we are called to manage and care for.  Therefore, we need to ask ourselves a very important question:   What does God want me to do with His assets that he has entrusted to me?

Personally, this is a question that needs to be asked daily! An old song once said “We live in a material world and I am a material girl” – Madonna (Sorry, I actually remembered this song!) At the core of each person is a battle of individualism, which is a desire to put our own interests above others. This means if we don’t ask God this question, we will by default lean towards asking ourselves –“How can I enjoy my wealth and hard work?  After all, I sacrificed a lot to obtain this wealth.”

So, as many things in the Christian life, stewardship is possibly easier to define and to agree with, but not so easy to carry out on a day to day basis. I am beginning to believe the only way to actually live out this true Biblical stewardship is to first consider how we manage our most precious asset that God also owns and gives to in equal portion to each of us: our time.  More on this next time.