Good stewardship is fundamental to being a follower of Jesus, as both something deeply personal and something that affects the whole family of God. We believe we are all entrusted by God with various resources, experiences and characteristics. So each of us are stewards – in the sense that we take care of and take responsibility for the things that we’ve been individually blessed with. Everything from our jobs, our natural abilities, how we look after our planet, to spiritual gifts can be a blessing that we use for God’s glory.
Here are five Bible verses that underpin the idea of stewardship:
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
1 Chronicles 29:14
When we realise that everything we have is given to us by God, not just the things that we have but the very breath to live each day, our perspective can radically shift. It’s the understanding that we can only give back to God what he has gifted us; a little bit like a child who asks for money from a parent because they want to buy that parent a present.
In this verse there’s a second insight as David, who is the speaker here, shows real humility asking ‘who am I?’ When we begin to understand the extent of our sinfulness, we realise that we don’t really deserve any of God’s good gifts that we freely receive. This double awareness of God’s huge generosity and our unworthiness can soften our hearts. It means we start to see giving as the best possible thing we can do with what we have – a willingness that transcends giving out of guilt and becomes something we love to do.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Timothy 6:7
This verse grounds us in the wider perspective we need for good stewardship. We can get easily bogged down in bills to pay, to-do lists to tick off and savings to build that we forget what’s most important is the balance we are building in the economy of the Kingdom. Not that we can in any way earn God’s favour, but that when we steward well we contribute to the things that last for eternity. It’s undeniably a lot more exciting than increasing our own bank balance with the sole aim of enjoying a few years of comfortable retirement.
The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
but fools gulp theirs down.
There’s a very practical side to stewardship: it’s a discipline as well as an attitude, both the head and heart working together. It involves making prudent decisions about what we own and how to use it – preserving things while they’re in use, being creative with what we have and practically and spiritually being ready to share with others.
The difference between stewardship and ownership is that stewards are generally looking after something on behalf of somebody else. The true owner is God. So when we understand his desire for us to look after the poor and share with those around us, we can aim to be in a position to respond to others’ needs in our stewarding – provision to be reactive as well as consistently active.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10
God has designed us to need each other – the Church is described as a body, and there’s a beautiful interdependency between the parts. When each person uses their unique combination of gifts and abilities, the Church works together far more harmoniously.
Having gifts carries a responsibility but it doesn’t have to be a burden. It can be joyful to look out for opportunities to use them and steers us away from considering what other people have and the possibility of envy. We can keep praying for God to open our eyes to the small opportunities that come up in our daily lives.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Stewarding well is so much more than financial giving, it’s more of a posture in which we live our lives. The Bible doesn’t make a division here into sacred or secular; this verse is clear that even what we think is indifferent or insignificant has the possibility of bringing glory to God. We know that what’s important to God is the heart and motive behind an action, not how brave or big it appears.
A good steward puts ambition, awards and personal recognition to one side. The commandments to first love God and love our neighbour help us focus on maximising what we have to benefit others rather than ourselves. Great stewardship offers us a taste of what it will be like in eternity, when there’s no division, competition or comparison, and we enjoy God’s glory together.