Biblical stewardship is one of those “Churchy” phrases and people have various understanding of what that phrase means. When people hear “stewardship” in church, some people immediately think the church is going to build a new building or fund a project and they need my money. Other people immediately go to the tithe or 10% of our income going to the church.
The focus of stewardship is not about the local church needing money. Biblical stewardship is about our relationship with a God who provides all we have. The challenge we struggle with in understanding stewardship is that stewardship is not a common word that is used today, except in the context of the church. To understand stewardship, we have to go back to the beginning of Genesis in creation.
R.C. Sproul provides this description,
“The second command given to Adam and Eve was to have dominion over the earth. God installed Adam and Eve as His vice-regents, those who were to rule in His stead over all of creation. It’s not that God granted independent ownership of the planet to humankind. It remains His possession. But God called Adam and Eve to exercise authority over the animals, plants, seas, rivers, sky, and the environment. They were not to exercise authority like a reckless tyrant who has carte blanche to do anything he wants, for God didn’t make Adam and Eve owners of the earth. He made them stewards of the earth, who were to act in His name and for His glory.”
The problem is that believers get confused in thinking we are owners, instead of the reality that we are stewards over what God provides. God owns it all. Here are a few verses that remind us of that truth:
“To the Lord your God belongs the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” Deuteronomy 10:14
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1
“’The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty” Haggai 2:8
“I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountain, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:10-12.
If we truly understand that we have no ownership rights over the things we possess, but that we are only stewards or caretakers over the possessions God has allowed us to care for, that reality should change our whole perspective on how we handle those possessions.
David McConaugh explained in his book Money the Acid Test,
“Money, most common of temporal things, involves uncommon and eternal consequences. Even though it may be done quite unconsciously, money molds men in the process of getting it, saving it, spending it and giving it. Depending on how you use it, it proves to be a blessing or a curse to the possessor. Either the man becomes the master of his money or the money becomes the master of the man. Our Lord takes money, as essential as it is to our common life, and as sordid as it sometimes seems, and makes it a touchstone to test the lives of men and an instrument to mold men into the likeness of himself.”
We either act like owners or stewards. As a steward, we relinquish our ownership of all we possess and acknowledge that God owns it all and our goal becomes glorifying God in the way we handle His possessions, through how we get it, save it, spend it, and give it.