A.W. Tozer said “Everything is safe which we commit to [God], and nothing is really safe which is not so committed”. I whole-heartedly agree with Tozer save one point—everything already belongs to God. The universe, the lights of the heavens, the earth and the fullness thereof are all His. When God created Adam [and Eve] He gave us dominion over everything, but not ownership. God made created us to be stewards.
Let me first begin by defining stewardship. It is “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (Merriam-Webster). It is what a governor does for a colony; what a nanny does for her employers’ child; what a limo driver does for the limo. They are given something, but they do not own it. And should the said professionals presume to own the thing they are hired to care for, they will be promptly removed from their position because they will have proven themselves unworthy.
The concept of stewardship is one that has been lost on a people and a generation that feels the need to own everything. We have our families, our finances, our belongings, our land, etc. In our finite minds we seem to think that because we purchased something, were given something, or gave birth to something that it is ours and this is simply not true.
Everything, no matter the way it comes to us is given us by God. He either created it or gave man the ability and means to create it. He owns the patent on all. The confusion between owning a thing and holding a thing is very evident in societies near and far, developed and undeveloped. People are really all the same. The two areas wherein the issue of stewardship seems to be the most evident are family situations and finances.
I’ll first tackle the issue of confusion as it pertains to families. How many of you have seen or met the stage moms who drive their daughters to excel on the stage or silver screen? Or what about the dad’s who push their sons to apply to their alma mater, play a certain sport, or study a certain program? Slim are the chances that the children unfortunately placed in these situations grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. And the aspirations need not be so glamourous, they could be more simple-the mother who wants her children to remain in the home or close by regardless of their age. It could be any number of issues. These people generally suffer major control issues and or self-esteem issues due to unfulfilled dreams and the misconceptions of parenthood. The Bible refers to children as “a heritage from the Lord” and “a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Not as a possession. Parents and family members in general must understand that the people God places in our lives are a blessing to be enjoyed and cared for, not lorded over, controlled, or manipulated. This is bound to tarnish and possibly even ruin the relationships that we hold so dear.
The second and, I believe, more widespread issue is that of finances. We work for “our money” and that makes us think we own it. We couldn’t be more wrong. Since it is God who created us, created the employers and companies we work for, gave us the ability to work the jobs, and the means to transport ourselves to the location(s) of our employment, it is God who provides the money; He is the Ultimate Source. Everyone and everything else is just a resource. Take a tree for example: it has branches that grow from its trunk which produce fruit, yet the branches do not claim the ability to produce or the possession of the fruit it yields. It knows that there would be no fruit and no branches had there been no roots pulling the nutrients from the ground which produce the tree which in turn produce the fruit. The credit is not its own and it is the same for us. All the abilities we have to “get wealth”, however great or little, is due to God’s graciousness and allowance. This is why we tithe.
And I know with uttering the “t-word” I’ve just turned half of my readers off with my “Old Testament” thinking. But tithing is not an Old or New Testament concept, it’s a biblical concept; a godly concept. It has no season, it has no time. It has no context, distinction, or limitation. It is for all. And it is not a concept that stands by itself; it is paired with offering as well. These two have been with us since the beginning of time. Cain killed his brother Abel because he offered a more acceptable sacrifice than he himself had (Genesis 4:3-10). Abraham is portrayed paying his tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20). The Jews in the Old Testament temple and Believer in the New Testament were both commanded to pay tithes and give. Malachi even declares the refusal of tithe-paying “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8-10).
Just to be clear, a tithe is 10 percent of all your increase. An offering is independent of the tithe and has no particular figure except that which God—not man—lays upon your heart to give. God gives us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18) and in return, only requires 10 percent of it consistently. He could demand 30, 50, 75, or 90 percent, but instead, He chooses to let us deal with the 90 as we see fit. And this is where the concept of stewardship comes in. After giving God His due, we are now left with 90 percent to spend. And how we spend it determines how we truly grasp the concept of stewardship.
My boyfriend is an excellent private banker and frequently teaches on the handling of finances using simple, solid, biblical wisdom. And as such, stewardship is the foundation of his teaching. He believes that if people can truly understand and apply the concept of stewardship, then they can begin to correct and increase their financial situation. Furthermore, once you have the concept of stewardship firmly in place as it concerns your finances, you’ll begin to notice the same concept showing up in other areas of your life (i.e. eating healthy, exercising, treatment of belongings and loved ones, etc.). And what’s more is that as much as an adult can benefit from this type of teaching, imagine how much more a child would. One could easily avoid a life plagued by bad credit, overdrawn accounts, and more if taught this concept.
The idea is that if you are given something to take care of that does not belong to you, you’ll most likely treat it better than if it was your own. If my boyfriend went out of town and asked me to watch his home or keep his car, I would take excellent care to keep either of them clean, in good working condition, and whatever else might be necessary. Why? because they belong to him. Because I wouldn’t want him to leave thinking his home or car was in good hands, and return finding them dirty, destroyed, improperly cared for and so on. He entrusted them to me, so it is my obligation to return them to him as good as—and preferably better than—before.
Jesus was an avid preacher of stewardship; He used the concept in several of His parables. Here are some listed below:
- The Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants (Luke 12:35-48)
- The Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13)
And not only did Jesus speak of stewardship, but Paul and Peter reference it as well.
- The chapter entitled “Stewards of the Mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4)
- We are “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10)
Stewardship is an important concept to be learned that every area of our lives can benefit from.
If we acted as stewards, we would not live under a curse from lack of tithing. If we acted as stewards, our finances would be blessed because of our godly benevolence. If we acted as stewards, we would make wise financial decisions such as living within our means and making wise purchases. If we acted as stewards, our children would be taught to be not what they want to be, or what we want them to be, but what God called them to be. If we acted as stewards, our lives would be improved in so many ways only God could count them all. We would avoid so much stress and drama that only wears at our strength and afflicts our mental and physical health. We would be a wise, realistic people who God would be proud to call his own. And when He returns, He would find our spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, and physical homes in order. And as Tozer believed, we would find everything in our life that is attached to us safe, because we will have realized that it belongs to our great and capable God.
*Shameless plug: if you’d like my financially savvy boyfriend to speak at your business or ministerial gathering, please feel free to contact me! J