A Bible Study Especially Prepared for Use by a Home-Cell Group, or an Individual at Home
Stewardship is a neglected subject that is essential to Christian growth and maturity. The time has come for us all as Christians to see that TRUE HAPPINESS and TRUE JOY can only be known by KNOWING AND OBEYING GOD'S WORD. Knowing God's Word opens up a world of responsibility to us.
In looking at this subject we must realise it affects all our lives and attitudes in every aspect: FAMILY LIFE, WORK LIFE and CHURCH LIFE. So let's begin by asking:-
What is Stewardship?
The definition given in most Bible Dictionaries is that it is the practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities and material possessions, based on the conviction that those are on trust from God, to be used in His service and for His Kingdom.
Another definition is that it is a way of life. The reflection of God's ownership on one's person, one's powers, one's possessions and the faithful use of these to extend God's Kingdom in this world. To see these definitions more clearly we need to see the difference between ownership and stewardship.
God is the owner of all things. See the following scriptures:
"...possessor of Heaven and Earth." GENESIS 14:19-22
"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." PSALM 24:1
"The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them." PSALM 89:11
We are not owners but STEWARDS, RESPONSIBLE and ACCOUNTABLE. Here are two stories of ACCOUNTABILITY:
MATTHEW 25:14-30: The Parable of the Talents - the man who did nothing with his talent. He was BROUGHT TO JUDGMENT.
LUKE 19:11-26: The Parable of Pounds. Each was accountable to use wisely and profitably that which was entrusted to them.
God is the owner who has entrusted to us certain things to be used to extend His Kingdom. We are accountable to God for our attitude and use of what He has given us. So we ask:
What Has God Entrusted to Us?
God has entrusted to us to use for His Glory and to extend His Kingdom:
a) LIFE. (What you have received).
God made man (GENESIS 1:27-28). He (God) giveth to all, life and breath (ACTS 17:25). Life is a gift which we are not to waste.
b) TIME. (What you are allotted).
The lazy time-wasting man can expect poverty (PROVERBS 24:30-34).
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (PSALM 90:12). Time that God will hold us accountable for.
c) POSSESSIONS. (What is entrusted to you to use for God's Glory).
Don't lay up treasures on earth (MATTHEW 6:19-21). The thought here is not of having possessions, but of using your possessions for the Kingdom of God (See also COLOSSIANS 3:1-2).
d) FINANCES. (What you labour for).
The pattern for giving
"as God has prospered us." (1. CORINTHIANS 16:1-2)
Now let us go on to see:
What Makes a Good Steward?
What God looks for in Stewardship, and remember it affects our Church life too.
"...be found faithful" (1 CORINTHIANS 4:1-2). We must be faithful to God; to man; to the Church. We must prove the effects of the Gospel by our faithfulness to it. We must be reliable.
b) TEACHABLENESS. The psalmist says, "
Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path" (PSALM 27:11). A KNOW-IT-ALL ATTITUDE should never be seen in those who are stewards of God. The sign of a man or woman who is seeking to be a good steward of God is that they will continually seek to be taught. They will also have a ...
c) DESIRE TO MINISTER (SERVE).
"...by love serve one another" (GALATIANS 5:13).
"In honour preferring one another" (ROMANS 12:10). If there is an area we fail on it is our concern for one another. We care for those in our immediate area or circle of friends, but if help and concern is called for outside of that we falter. Oh to serve as Christ served! The heart of Christ was the heart of a servant: LUKE 22:27.
d) WILLINGNESS TO GIVE.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you" (LUKE 6:38). If we hold loosely on to our possessions; if we realise that nothing we have we really own; we will hold on loosely to everything. We need to be willing to give of life, time, talents, possessions, finances; the more we give to God the more we get back.
IN CONCLUSION, let us look at:
The Accountability of Stewards (LUKE 16:1-13)
We are introduced to this steward in:
V.1 When he was accused of
"wasting his Master's goods".
V.2 He was commanded to give an account.
"Giving an account" means we must not blunder through life unconcerned about what God is thinking of the way we live. It also means we must use the gifts and talents which He has given us.
V.3 We see the possibility of forfeiture, of the things we have been given.
"...give an account of thy stewardship." LUKE 16:2
How we ought to live: 1 PETER 4:7-11.
We shall have to give account: ROMANS 14:12.
There is no room in our Christian life for a "live-as-you-please attitude". We are accountable to God to live in a way that pleases Him. God grant that we will be good stewards of those things God has entrusted to us.
by John King (Nuneaton)
Source: "Redemption Tidings" (March 1984)