The most obvious area of stewardship is our finances and resources. This is what people are usually talking about when they refer to stewardship, and the Bible is full of directions regarding our money. I’d like to simply take one section of Scripture and makes some applications about stewarding our money.
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
1. The first point is that we are rich in this present age. We have incredible wealth, especially if you compare what we have to the rest of the world. We sometimes do not feel very rich because we see the mounting bills, and we’re stretched to make the money go the distance. But when it comes to luxuries like indoor plumbing (hot and cold), grocery stores with every possible choice for us, entertainment at our fingertips, multiple means of travel, and modern medicine (just to name a few), I hope you’ll see my point. We are blessed.I am not saying there are no poor in our country. But of those reading this blog post, I’m just saying, if you have access to a computer, you are probably what most of the world would call rich.
2. So we ought not be haughty. Who gave us all these blessings? They are gifts of grace and not anything we deserve for being good people. God is to be thanked, and we are to not look down on those with little. Far from it.
3. We should never trust in our riches, our houses, our possessions. Why? Because these things are uncertain. They can vanish in a heartbeat, and so can we. This means we have to keep the right perspective on all our stuff. We are to be thankful for it all, but never presumptive. We have these things at our disposal right now, so we should be eager to turn a profit on them, making good investments, using it all in a manner that will please our good God. But if we start trusting in our bank accounts and not in God, planning our future based on our retirement plan and not in God’s faithfulness, then we need to make a heart adjustment. We must trust in God and nothing else, because nothing else is trustworthy, least of all riches.
4. However, notice that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy.” He is not a scrooge. We should imitate Him in how He gives to us. He is lavishing His love on us richly, and we ought to enjoy it. This means no guilt. If God has blessed you with more than your neighbor, enjoy it and bless God. If God has blessed you with less than your neighbor, enjoy that he has more and bless God. Enjoy what you have! I think this means have fun with your money, and a big chunk of that fun comes with bestowing it creatively on others. Serve God wholeheartedly with your money because He has given you all this stuff, and He wants to see you enjoying it all before Him.
5. Our riches are given to us for doing good. The tithe is the minimum of our giving. I have heard people say they don’t make enough to tithe and others say they make too much to tithe. It doesn’t matter what your income, give God ten percent as a way of demonstrating that He really owns it all. He has loaned all this stuff to you and He wants to see what you will do with it. Hoard it? Squander it? No, that’s what the pagans do. Spread it. Matthew Henry quotes a man as saying that money is like manure, good for nothing in the heap, but it must be spread. Heaping it together does good for no one, and it stinks.
6. We are to be ready to give. If we are going to make a mistake with our money, let it be giving too much rather than giving too little. God loves a cheerful giver. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Mt. 10:8). How do you react when you receive an unexpected financial gift? Happily? Then give the same way.
5. We are to be willing to share. Even when we don’t think we have enough. God will enlarge our capacity to give and share. “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Prov. 11:25). Sharing may include your stuff and not just your money. Use your home, your car, all your stuff in a way that honors God and doesn’t worship the stuff. Your stuff may get beat up or scratched or destroyed. Let it go. God has more where that came from.
7. God watches what we are doing with our riches. When we are using them wisely, He says we are storing up a good foundation for the time to come. This is the real bank account. This is the one we will wish we had put more into when we get to “the time to come.”
Finally, a few other practical thoughts. Don’t try to buy affection by giving, whether it is stuff for the kids or grandkids or stuff for friends or stuff for your pastor. Give it to God first, then give your gifts with no strings. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So what if you can’t get a tax-deductible receipt if you give your money to someone needy in the church. Don’t let that stop you. Remember that God is putting it in your account. It’s not about your taxes, though it’s tempting to think it is.
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed” (Prov. 22:9). This is the man who has an eye out for his opportunities, looking for ways to be generous. When we live this way, it is hard to trust in our riches and much easier to do good with them.