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What is Stewardship in the Bible?
Stewardship is how we are called to live as children of the most high God. Stewardship in the Bible is about the responsibility for managing or allocating the resources that He has given us. While it is often spoken about with a focus on money, through the word of God we will learn that it’s much deeper than that.
The Lord of hosts laid the foundations of stewardship in Genesis, and it continues through to the New Testament. Stewardship truly begins with the personal experience of receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our priorities, thoughts, perspective, and behavior change to please our heavenly father.
We realize that we are agents of the true master and surrender ourselves to Him and His will. As Christians, we make wise decisions to follow and obey God at whatever cost. In our quest to honor the Lord, we use what He has given us wisely to expand His kingdom and glorify Him.
Understanding and practicing good stewardship is one of the best ways to become a mature follower of Christ Jesus.
Biblical stewardship definition
The Oxford Dictionary defines a steward as “a person whose job is to take care of passengers on a ship, an aircraft or a train and who brings them meals, etc.” It also described stewardship as “the act of taking care of or managing something, for example, property, an organization, money or valuable objects.”
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, stewardship is utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.
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This could be our time, treasures, talents, skills, spiritual gifts, and resources.
It’s not about giving back to Him but rather using what He has given us to accomplish something more.
Proper management of resources is an act of worship where we are custodians and guardians put in charge of what the Lord God created in a way that honors Him. Christian stewardship is understanding our heavenly father is the ultimate owner of all things, and he is the one with authority. We are merely caretakers, overseers, and managers of what He has entrusted us with.
The New Testament word for stewardship comes from the Greek word oikonomos, which means the manager of the affairs of a household.
Biblical stewardship is understanding that you do things on God’s behalf, and as his ambassador and representative on earth, he expects responsible management of all that is under your care.
Bible verses about Christian stewardship
What does the Bible say about stewardship? In the scriptures below, we learn that we should be good stewards of God’s gifts, grace, and the revelations he gives us. We are to conduct ourselves in a way that pleases Him, be generous, a cheerful giver, and faithful in what we’ve been entrusted with. Ultimately, we will get a reward for doing good deeds and being wise stewards.
Principles of Stewardship
There are some fundamental principles of Christian stewardship we need to understand.
- Principle of Ownership
In the Psalm of David, we learn that the Lord of hosts is the ultimate owner of all living things. This is one of the first things to understand about stewardship as it puts things into perspective for us. If everything belongs to God, we own nothing and are rather humble stewards of everything he gives us.
The Bible says we are not our own; we belong to the one who created us, saved us, and sustains us. Every perfect gift we own is from Him.
Knowing that our lives and bodies are not our own gives us an obligation to take care of them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for God’s glory. That’s why self-care is important.
What about your treasure, hard-earned money, and personal finances?
We use our God-given ability, power, and strength to make money, so again, he is the rightful owner of everything.
- The principle of responsibility
Anytime you’re responsible for something that belongs to someone else, that’s stewardship. A nanny is the steward of your kids when she’s with them, and you go out to dinner with your spouse. Teachers are stewards of our kids during school hours.
A steward is, therefore, responsible for what they are entrusted with. The foundation of Christian stewardship is found in Genesis.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image; in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them.
In the beginning, God made Adam and Eve the first stewards. They had God-given dominion to tend to the Garden of Eden. They had to be fruitful not only when it comes to producing more children but expanding the kingdom of God. He asked them for responsible management of every living creature.
With the fall of man, this has been lost, but redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ, calls us to go back to the original design and responsibility for man.
While the earth gives us food, clothing, shelter, and livelihood, the Lord God requires us to take care of this world and everything in it. Besides nature, we are responsible for our households, family members, and finances.
We are also responsible for the spiritual gifts we’ve been blessed with to use them for the glory of God. Everything we have been given, we are responsible for. We are to use it all not for our own enjoyment but for those around us, our families, and ultimately God’s kingdom.
- The principle of accountability
Through the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, we learn about good stewardship and the principle of accountability in the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.
In this Parable, a man went on a journey and entrusted his three servants with his possessions. To one, he gave five talents; to the other two, and to the third servant, he gave one talent. Both the one with five and the one with two doubled their master’s money. When the master of those servants returned after a long time, he was pleased with them.
The master’s happiness was in the two servants who had taken the little they were given and multiplied it. Because of that, he decided to put them in charge of many things because he could trust them.
The third servant with one talent, however, hid it under the ground because he knew his master was a hard man, but the master was not happy with this result.
All three servants were accountable for what they did with the master’s money. Just like in the Parable of the Talents, the Lord God will ask you to give an account of your management of the money, opportunities, talents, time, testimony, and resources you’ve been given.
- The Principle of Reward
We see in the Parable of Talents that the servants who doubled what their master gave them were rewarded. The master gave them even more talents, and more responsibility and told them they would share in his joy and happiness. At the proper time, we will get our reward for all the good works we do. This is what Apostle Paul says:
One of the best ways we get rewarded is when we’re good stewards of our money in the house of God. The very words of God assure us that when we’re faithful in our tithing, we will be blessed.
Best examples of Biblical stewardship
The word of God gives us some great examples of wise stewards that we can look up to. As we follow their example, we will reap the same benefits they did and grow spiritually in our walk with the Lord.
- Jesus, the best example of a Christian steward
As disciples of Christ Jesus, we know that we look up to him for everything. He was the perfect steward who gave up all He had as a way of obeying his father’s instructions.
Jesus took on his role with joy. He understood his purpose and assignment and was sensitive to the needs of others.
He was the custodian of his followers and disciples, and he took care of them as the great shepherd he is. This is apart from Judas, though, but Jesus knew already that Judas would betray him to fulfill the scriptures.
- Jesus’ disciples
Following in their master’s footsteps, the disciples were good stewards of God. After Jesus died, they evangelized and spread the gospel all over the earth. It is because of their great work that we also today have heard the good news and believe in the Lord.
- Joseph was a wise steward
Joseph, the son of Jacob, is one of the best examples of biblical stewardship. As a servant in the house of his Egyptian master, he was a good man, a diligent worker, and got promoted from a faithful slave to become a wise manager of a household.
- God’s steward Moses
When God had a need for a leader for the people of Israel, he chose Moses. As God’s faithful steward, he led them for a long time, serving as their guide from Egyptian bondage, and throughout the forty years, they wandered in the wilderness.
- King David
Even before he became king, David honored the Lord with his gifts as a shepherd boy. As a king, he was a good steward of his good gifts of being a warrior and made wise decisions that helped expand the kingdom of God.
- The faithful servants
Jesus Christ taught about being faithful servants in Matthew 24:42-51 who are diligent and hardworking whether the master is there to inspect their work or not. As a wise manager, the faithful servant takes care of others, is responsible, and manages the resources God has given him well.
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What are the qualities of a good steward?
From the Biblical examples of stewardship, we learn the top qualities of a good steward.
- Be honest and trustworthy
- A faithful steward is wise
- Be hard-working and diligent
- Be fruitful and productive in your areas of responsibility
- Trust God as the rightful owner of all things
- Be responsible and accountable
- Be faithful to what has been entrusted in their care
- Rely on the Lord and be prayerful
- Be proactive in doing good deeds for others
- Discern the Holy Spirit and allow him to guide you in making wise decisions.
There are things God expects from us as good stewards in the church. We are to give the full tithe and contribute to the offering, missionary works, and any needs the church has.
As faithful servants of Christ, we are to also give of our time and be volunteers, serve the church, and use our spiritual gifts for the glory of God.
We are called to love our fellow human beings and meet the needs of others. Not only our family members’ needs but also those of the widows, children, orphans, and destitute among us. As we become faithful stewards to serve the common good and further the kingdom of God, we will be richly blessed.
You may enjoy this sermon by Tony Evans on The Meaning of Stewardship:
Good books to read on Biblical stewardship
Kingdom Stewardship by Tony Evans looks at how we can use our time, treasures, and talents for God’s glory.
Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung gives practical tips to help you be a better steward of your time.
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NKJV – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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