PASTOR’S PONDERING ON PRINCIPLES OF STEWARDSHIP
Recently in our Sunday School class, we have had some rather spirited discussions on the topic of Stewardship of our time, talents, and treasures, and it’s caused me to think about how we use the resources God has entrusted to us. The discussion has been generated by a rather convicting chapter in a book assigned to the Fanning the Flame Team, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, written by Donald Whitney (pp. 169–190). Stewardship is just one of the disciples Pastor Whitney lists, along with praying, Bible reading and meditating, worshiping, evangelism, serving, fasting, and several others. The chapter on Stewardship seemed especially appropriate to our class, as Mike Parker has been leading us in discussions on the wise use of our personal and home finances.
Anyway, I found out from our class members that the word “stewardship” is not commonly used today—we decided that a more contemporary term would be “management,” because the biblical concept of a steward described someone who was responsible to manage the estate of another, such as Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the food supply of Egypt (Gen 41:39–44). Thus, when Paul states in 1 Cor 4:1 that he wants to be considered as a “steward of the mysteries of God,” the idea is that God has entrusted Paul with the truths of the gospel to pass on faithfully to the Church. In a broader sense, 1 Peter 4:10 tells us each believer has received a gift from God to minister to others, “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” It appears then, that we are all accountable to God for all that He has given to us, and His entrusting is usually organized into three categories, our time, talents, and treasures.
Dr. Whitney first discusses the stewardship of our time, noting these points:
- Use time wisely for the days are evil (Eph 5:15–16);
- Use time for Preparation of eternity (2 Cor 6:2);
- Use time for it is short (James 4:14);
- Use Time for it is passing (1 John 2:17);
- Our remaining time is uncertain (Prov 27:1);
- Lost time cannot be regained (John 9:4);
- You are accountable to God for your time (Matt 25:14–30);
- Time is so easily lost (Prov 24:33–34);
- We value time the most at death (Isaiah 38:1–3);
- Wasted time seems to be remembered in eternity (Luke 16:22–25).
It would be well worth your time to read over these verses and ask yourself, am I investing my current time for the end of time? I suspect that you will be—like me—rather convicted at how much time is wasted with frivolous activities.
Dr. Whitney does not write much on the stewardship of talents other than pointing to the Parable of the Talents in Matt 25:14–30. The upshot of the parable is that whatever the Lord entrusts to you, be faithful in using it for the Master, lest it be taken away from you due to lack of use (v. 29). Needless to say, it’s a most convicting passage of Scripture.
Lastly, Dr. Whitney notes that 1 Tim 5:8 indicates that how you use your treasures (your money, property, etc.) is an intensely spiritual issue. He outlines the biblical use of treasure as follows:
- God owns everything you own (1 Cor 10:26);
- Giving is an act of worship (Phil 4:18);
- Giving reflects your faith in God’s provisions (Mark 12:41–44);
- Giving should be sacrificial and generous (2 Cor 8:1–5;)
- Giving reflects spiritual trustworthiness (Luke 16:10–13);
- We are to give out of love (I want to give), not out of legalism (I have to give; 2 Cor 8:8);
- We should give willingly, thankfully, and cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7);
- We should give as an appropriate response to real needs (Acts 2:45; 4:35; 11:29);
- We should give with systematic planning (1 Cor 16:1–2);
- Generous giving results in bountiful blessings (2 Cor 9:6–8).
Again, it would be a fruitful exercise to read over these verses and consider, do you give like you mean it? The answer will depend on whether you consider yourself to be a steward of all that God has entrusted to you, so that’s an issue I commend to our ongoing pondering.