[This post was originally written for our October 2012 newsletter.]
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”
Beloved in Christ,
We say that Christians are God’s stewards. That is the common way for the Bible to speak about the Christian life. The Scriptures talk that way because stewards in the proper sense of the word were a lot more common back then. To be a steward was to be trusted. A master could entrust certain duties and even his belongings to a faithful steward and know they would be well cared for. Whatever the steward managed did not belong to him, it was his master’s property.
Once while I was driving down to Orlando with my son Joshua, we stopped to look at a cotton field and a large harvester. While we were there a farmer came up and started to chat with us. I asked him if this was his land and he said no, that he was its steward. I was surprised to hear him use the word steward. He told me about the owner, how he was good to him, paid him well, and that he had been caring for his boss’ land for almost forty years. He then pointed across the street and said, “I rent the land over there myself. I’ve always done a little tenant farming since I was in high school.”
There’s an interesting lesson to be learned in this man’s two vocations as steward and tenant farmer. A Christian is a steward and not a tenant. A tenant pays his rent and then keeps any profits he earns from the property. Sometimes we can be guilty of thinking of our relationship to God as the life of a tenant. We give God what we think is a reasonable share of our time, talents, and treasure. After that, we think we can do as we please with the rest. The profits, so to speak, are ours to do whatever we want with them.
A steward realizes that even the rest or profits belong to God. God has honored us by entrusting us to manage all of life’s resources for His glory. For instance our Christian stewardship of our time is just as important in how we choose to spend the weekend as how we spend it during the work week. Our Christian stewardship of finances is not just about whether we tithe or not, but how we manage all the treasures God has given us. Even when we give something, for example in the offering or with our talents at Church, we must say with David, “For all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You.”” (1 Chron. 29:14).
The life of stewardship is a life of gratitude. I think of the farmer I met and how he took a lot of pride in being steward of his boss’ land. His boss was more like family to him the farmer said and I could tell he was happy to work for him. The faithfulness of his boss obviously created gratitude in his steward. He said to me as he pointed to the land he was renting, “I love him so much like family that I wish he could afford to buy that land over there and I’d manage it for him, too. He’s that good of a man to work for.”
My dear friends in Christ, our relationship with our Master is very much the same, but even better than anything the world can offer us. By our baptism our relationship to God is not “like” family, we are God’s family. Jesus Christ is our brother, and we have the joy to be His stewards. Our Master was faithful unto death, even death on a cross, that we might be His own. His faithfulness creates a gratitude in us that recognizes that our stewardship is not just a duty, but rather a privilege and honor. Throughout the month of October I am going to focus in on the life of stewardship from time to time in Adult Bible Study and Worship. Pray with me that God will continue to grow us in gratitude for His faithfulness and a sense of wonder that He entrusts us with so many gifts to be used to His glory.
In Christ’s service,