Life: God's Renewable resource
Defining the Theology of Stewardship
by Rue Dell Smith
To learn more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions, visit www.homemissions.net.
"AND HE SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward" (Luke 16:1-2). The word stewardship means an administration, a dispensation, or economy.
The text reveals that a rich man (symbolizing God) had committed goods to his steward (symbolizing mankind) for administration. The steward was accused of wasting the goods of the rich man. If the accusation were true, his stewardship authority to handle the goods of his master would be revoked.
The Word of God makes it clear that by the act of creation alone, everything belongs to God. He takes his creation seriously, and in Scripture, we find several characteristics of God’s stewardship.
The Motive of God's Stewardship is love. Love Gives. First John 4:7 says that God is Love. John 3:16 declares that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Love always gives.
The Method of His Stewardship was Creation. In this Grace Dispensation, he even surpasses his original creation work by creating us new in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Purpose of God's Stewardship is The Kingdom. It is possible that before the war in Heaven (Revelation 12) and the fall of man (Genesis 3), God's Kingdom was in perfect harmony, but now it seems to be in revolt and disarray. However, God will produce a kingdom that is undivided and undisputed. Jesus will be seen and recognized as King of kings and Lord of lords.
To develop and fulfill His Economic purposes, God placed stewardship authority in the hands of the Son. Although known on earth for only 33 years, Jesus shares eternity with the Father.
The Power of His Stewardship is unlimited. "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth…Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…." (Matthew 28:18b-19a).
The Purpose of His Stewardship is the Church: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).
The Plan of His Stewardship is Redemption: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). The words, it is finished are from the Greek word telestaia. The word has been found on ancient invoices in Palestine, and means the debt is paid in full. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit stewardship control over the heart of the believer.
The Holy Spirit's stewardship cannot be separated from God's dealings with man. All the attributes of God the Father and God the Son are inherent in the Holy Spirit, and He applies these to the believer. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:15, 16).
The believer can be assured of his master, his mission, and his ministry. God has made the believer an heir of everything to which Jesus is an heir. The believers become stewards or administrators as the Holy Spirit guides them. The Apostle Paul stated, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17). If we deny our administrative responsibility, we deny our inheritance.
Stewardship of Time
Benjamin Franklin said, "Don't waste time; it's the stuff life is made of." Jesus is Lord of time and history. In Galatians we find, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).
Stewardship of Talents
Talents refer to the gifts or abilities we have, whether they are learned, inherent, or God given, they must be used properly. Such talents include music, singing, oration, writing, teaching, meeting people, sports, engineering, architecture, art, or computer technology. The list could go on and on. God will use any of these or other talents if we use them as stewards for His glory.
One of the greatest needs in this matter of stewardship is the complete surrender of our talents to him. Evangelism is hard work, but it is also a talent. The power of personal witness can never be replaced. Jesus said, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Stewardship of Our Treasures
This involves our possessions, which belong to God anyway—stocks, bonds, investments of any kind, and our salaries. Our stewardship of treasures or things must spring from a conviction that everything belongs to God, that we are just an administrator following his wishes.
I'm convinced that Christians should tithe. This principle was established before the law of Moses. Abraham tithed. Israel tithed. Malachi said, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:8-10).
The tithing principle is a good place to start, but it is only the beginning. This passage makes it clear that God had been robbed of offerings as well as tithes. The Bible teaches us that through tithing we witness that we have a living high priest. "And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth" (Hebrews 7:8). Stewardship of things or treasures will teach us that all we have is God's, and we are only His managers according to His House Law.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Reverend Rue Dell Smith is a veteran Home Missionary to Monroe, LA.