Understanding Christian Stewardship: Essential Lessons for New Believers

New Believer’s Bible Study: Part Twelve – Stewardship

Pastor Duke Taber

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Introduction

Stewardship is a fundamental concept in the Christian life, yet it is often misunderstood or overlooked. At its core, stewardship is about recognizing that everything we have – our time, talents, and resources – ultimately belongs to God and has been entrusted to us to manage for His glory and purposes.

In this study, we will explore the biblical foundations of stewardship, the practical implications for how we use our time, talents, and resources, and the blessings and rewards of faithful stewardship. We will examine what it means to be a wise and responsible steward, and how our stewardship is ultimately an act of worship and a reflection of our love for God.

As we delve into this topic, may we be challenged to view all that we have as a sacred trust from God, and may we be inspired to use our time, talents, and resources in ways that honor Him, advance His kingdom, and benefit others. May we embrace the privilege and responsibility of stewardship, knowing that our faithfulness in this area has eternal significance and will one day be rewarded by our loving and generous God.

Reflective Questions

  1. What comes to mind when you hear the word “stewardship”? What emotions, thoughts, or experiences does it evoke?
  2. Why do you think understanding and practicing biblical stewardship is important for Christians?
  3. What areas of your life (time, talents, resources) do you find most challenging to steward well?
  4. How do you hope to grow in your understanding and practice of stewardship through this study?
New Believer's Bible Study: Part Twelve - Stewardship

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The Biblical Foundations of Stewardship

The concept of stewardship is deeply rooted in the biblical narrative, from the creation account in Genesis to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. As we explore the biblical foundations of stewardship, we gain a clearer understanding of God’s ownership, our role as stewards, and the principles that should guide our management of the resources He has entrusted to us.

God’s Ownership and Sovereignty

The starting point for biblical stewardship is the recognition that God is the ultimate owner and sovereign ruler of all things. As the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, He has absolute authority and ownership over everything that exists.

The Psalmist declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1, NKJV). In the New Testament, Paul affirms that “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36, NKJV).

This truth has profound implications for how we view ourselves and the resources we possess. We are not the ultimate owners of our time, talents, or possessions, but rather stewards or managers of what belongs to God. He has the right to determine how these resources should be used and to hold us accountable for our management of them.

Embracing God’s ownership and sovereignty is the foundation for faithful stewardship. It frees us from the burden of ownership and the temptation to use resources solely for our own benefit. Instead, it motivates us to seek God’s will and purposes for all that He has entrusted to us, knowing that we will one day give an account to Him.

The Role and Responsibility of Stewards

Throughout Scripture, God’s people are referred to as stewards or managers of His resources. In the Old Testament, we see examples of stewards who were entrusted with overseeing households, property, or financial affairs on behalf of their masters (Genesis 24:2; 39:4; 1 Chronicles 28:1).

In the New Testament, Jesus often uses the metaphor of stewardship to describe the relationship between God and His people. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus portrays God as a master who entrusts his servants with varying amounts of resources and expects them to use those resources wisely and productively in his absence.

The apostle Paul also emphasizes the responsibility of stewards, stating that “it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2, NKJV). He describes his own ministry as a “stewardship from God” (Colossians 1:25, NKJV) and encourages believers to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10, NKJV).

As stewards, we have been entrusted with a sacred responsibility to manage God’s resources in a way that aligns with His will and advances His purposes. This involves seeking His guidance, using resources wisely and efficiently, and being accountable for our choices and actions.

Faithful stewardship requires diligence, integrity, and a long-term perspective. It means investing our time, talents, and resources in things that have eternal value and significance, rather than pursuing temporary or selfish gains. It also means being willing to sacrifice and take risks for the sake of God’s kingdom, trusting in His provision and rewarding.

Principles of Biblical Stewardship

While the specific applications of stewardship may vary depending on our individual circumstances and callings, there are several key principles that emerge from the biblical teaching on this topic:

  1. Stewardship is an act of worship and obedience. How we use our resources is ultimately a reflection of our love for and devotion to God (Matthew 6:21). Faithful stewardship is an expression of our gratitude for His grace and goodness, and a tangible way of demonstrating our submission to His lordship.
  2. Stewardship involves wise and purposeful management. As stewards, we are called to use resources in a way that is intentional, efficient, and aligned with God’s purposes. This requires discernment, planning, and a willingness to make tough choices and trade-offs (Luke 14:28-30).
  3. Stewardship requires a kingdom perspective. Our ultimate goal as stewards is not personal comfort or success, but the advancement of God’s kingdom and the flourishing of His people. This means being willing to invest our resources in things that have eternal significance, even if they don’t bring immediate or tangible rewards (Matthew 6:19-20).
  4. Stewardship is a matter of the heart. While practical skills and strategies are important, faithful stewardship ultimately flows out of a heart that is wholly devoted to God and seeks to honor Him in all things. It is the fruit of a transformed mind and renewed values system (Romans 12:2).
  5. Stewardship involves accountability and reward. As stewards, we will one day give an account to God for how we have managed His resources (Romans 14:12). While our salvation is by grace alone, our stewardship will be evaluated and rewarded based on our faithfulness and fruitfulness (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

As we seek to apply these principles in our daily lives and decisions, we can trust that God will guide and empower us to be faithful stewards of all that He has entrusted to us. We can also have confidence that our stewardship, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, has eternal value and significance in God’s eyes.

Reflective Questions

  1. How does understanding God’s ownership and sovereignty change your perspective on the resources you possess?
  2. What does it mean to be a faithful steward in your specific context and calling?
  3. Which principles of biblical stewardship resonate with you the most, and why?
  4. How can you cultivate a heart and mindset that is conducive to faithful stewardship?

Stewarding Our Time

One of the most precious and fleeting resources that God has entrusted to us is our time. How we spend our days and hours is a reflection of our priorities, values, and commitments. As stewards of God’s gift of time, we are called to use it wisely, purposefully, and in alignment with His will and purposes.

The Value and Significance of Time

The Bible speaks often of the value and significance of time, reminding us that our days on earth are limited and that we must make the most of every opportunity. The Psalmist prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV), while Paul exhorts believers to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NKJV).

In our fast-paced and distraction-filled world, it is easy to lose sight of the preciousness of time and to squander it on trivial or unproductive pursuits. As stewards, we must recognize that our time is not our own, but a gift from God that we will one day give an account for.

This recognition should lead us to a greater intentionality and purposefulness in how we use our time. It should motivate us to prioritize the things that matter most – our relationship with God, our loved ones, our calling and ministry – and to minimize or eliminate the things that distract or hinder us from those priorities.

Principles for Stewarding Time

The Bible provides several principles and practices for stewarding our time in a way that honors God and maximizes our fruitfulness:

  1. Seek God’s wisdom and guidance. As we plan and prioritize our time, we must seek God’s wisdom and guidance through prayer, Scripture, and the counsel of wise believers. We must ask Him to show us what is truly important and to align our schedules and commitments with His will (James 1:5).
  2. Set clear priorities and goals. Effective stewardship of time requires clarity about what matters most and what we hope to accomplish. We must identify our God-given roles, responsibilities, and callings, and set specific, measurable goals that move us towards fulfilling those things (Philippians 3:13-14).
  3. Make the most of every opportunity. As Paul exhorts, we must “redeem the time” by making the most of every moment and opportunity that God gives us. This means being proactive and intentional about how we spend our time, and being willing to say no to lesser things in order to say yes to God’s best (Colossians 4:5).
  4. Practice good habits and disciplines. Stewarding our time well requires developing good habits and disciplines that enable us to use our time efficiently and effectively. This may include practices such as planning, prioritizing, delegating, and setting boundaries (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).
  5. Invest in relationships and community. While productivity and achievement are important, we must also recognize the value of investing time in relationships and community. Building strong, supportive relationships with family, friends, and fellow believers is essential for our spiritual, emotional, and relational health (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  6. Take time for rest and renewal. Faithful stewardship of time also involves taking regular time for rest, reflection, and renewal. God Himself modeled this principle in the creation account, and Jesus often withdrew from the crowds to spend time alone with His Father (Genesis 2:2-3; Mark 1:35).

As we seek to apply these principles in our daily lives, we may need to make difficult choices and trade-offs. We may need to say no to good things in order to say yes to God’s best things. We may need to prune our schedules and commitments in order to create space for what matters most.

But as we do so, we can trust that God will honor our efforts and multiply our time in ways that we cannot imagine. We can have confidence that our stewardship of time, no matter how small or imperfect, is an act of worship and obedience that brings glory to God and bears fruit for His kingdom.

Examples and Applications

To illustrate these principles, let’s consider a few examples and applications of stewarding time in different contexts:

  • A busy parent may need to prioritize quality time with their children, even if it means saying no to other good opportunities or activities. They may need to set clear boundaries around work and outside commitments in order to create space for family relationships and discipleship.
  • A student may need to be intentional about how they use their time outside of class, prioritizing studying, extracurricular activities, and spiritual disciplines in a way that enables them to excel academically while also growing in their faith and character.
  • A retiree may need to prayerfully consider how God wants them to use their newfound time and freedom, perhaps by investing in mentoring younger believers, serving in their local church or community, or pursuing a new ministry or calling.
  • A single person may need to be proactive about building relationships and community, intentionally seeking out opportunities to connect with others and serve alongside them in ways that build up the body of Christ and advance God’s kingdom.

In each of these cases, the specific applications will vary depending on the individual’s circumstances, giftings, and callings. But the underlying principles remain the same: seeking God’s wisdom, setting clear priorities, making the most of every opportunity, practicing good habits, investing in relationships, and taking time for rest and renewal.

As we steward our time in these ways, we can trust that God will use us for His purposes and glory, and that our faithfulness in this area will bear fruit that lasts for eternity.

Reflective Questions

  1. How would you currently assess your stewardship of time? What areas of strength or weakness do you recognize?
  2. What specific priorities or goals do you sense God calling you to focus on in this season of life?
  3. What habits, disciplines, or practices do you need to cultivate in order to steward your time more effectively?
  4. How can you create space in your schedule for rest, renewal, and relationship-building?
  5. What is one practical step you can take this week to be a more faithful steward of your time?

Stewarding Our Talents

In addition to our time, God has entrusted each of us with unique talents, abilities, and skills that are meant to be used for His glory and the good of others. As stewards of these talents, we have a responsibility to develop, cultivate, and deploy them in ways that align with God’s purposes and bring Him honor.

The Nature and Purpose of Talents

The Bible teaches that every good and perfect gift comes from God, including the talents and abilities that we possess (James 1:17). These talents are not given to us merely for our own benefit or self-fulfillment, but for the purpose of serving God and others.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus illustrates this principle through the story of a master who entrusts his servants with varying amounts of money (talents) before going on a journey. The servants who invested and multiplied their talents were commended and rewarded by the master, while the servant who buried his talent out of fear was rebuked and punished.

This parable teaches us several important truths about the nature and purpose of our talents:

  1. Our talents are given to us by God, not earned or deserved by us.
  2. Our talents are diverse and vary in type and amount from person to person.
  3. Our talents are meant to be used and multiplied, not hidden or hoarded.
  4. We will one day give an account to God for how we have used our talents.
  5. Faithful stewardship of our talents leads to commendation and reward from God.

Recognizing the divine origin and purpose of our talents should lead us to a posture of humility, gratitude, and responsibility. We should view our talents not as a source of pride or self-promotion, but as a sacred trust from God that we are called to steward for His glory and the benefit of others.

Principles for Stewarding Talents

So how can we be faithful stewards of the talents God has given us? The Bible provides several principles and practices for stewarding our talents in a way that honors God and maximizes our impact:

  1. Identify and acknowledge your talents. The first step in stewarding our talents is to identify and acknowledge the specific abilities and skills that God has given us. This may involve a process of self-reflection, feedback from others, and prayerful discernment (Romans 12:3-8).
  2. Develop and cultivate your talents. Once we have identified our talents, we have a responsibility to develop and cultivate them through practice, learning, and discipline. This may involve investing time and resources in training, education, or mentorship to hone our skills and increase our effectiveness (Proverbs 18:15).
  3. Use your talents in service to others. The ultimate purpose of our talents is to serve God and others, not to promote ourselves or seek personal gain. We should actively look for opportunities to use our talents in our families, churches, workplaces, and communities in ways that meet needs, solve problems, and advance God’s kingdom (1 Peter 4:10-11).
  4. Collaborate and partner with others. While we each have unique talents, we are also part of a larger body of Christ where our talents are meant to complement and enhance the talents of others. We should seek out opportunities to collaborate and partner with others whose talents differ from our own, working together to accomplish more than we could on our own (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
  5. Give glory to God for your talents. As we use and cultivate our talents, it is important to remember that they are ultimately gifts from God and that any success or achievement we experience is due to His grace and empowerment. We should regularly give thanks and praise to God for the talents He has given us and the opportunities He provides to use them (Colossians 3:17).
  6. Be willing to take risks and step out in faith. Stewarding our talents often involves taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones in order to follow God’s leading and maximize our impact. We should be willing to trust God’s provision and direction, even when it means venturing into new or challenging territory (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

As we seek to apply these principles in our daily lives and decisions, we can trust that God will guide and empower us to be faithful stewards of the talents He has entrusted to us. We can also have confidence that our stewardship of talents, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, has eternal value and significance in God’s eyes.

Examples and Applications

To illustrate these principles, let’s consider a few examples and applications of stewarding talents in different contexts:

  • A musician may need to invest time and resources in developing their craft, practicing regularly and seeking out opportunities to use their talent in worship, performance, or teaching. They may also need to be open to collaborating with other musicians and using their platform to point others to Christ.
  • A businessperson may need to identify how their skills in leadership, strategy, or finance can be used to create value, solve problems, and promote ethical practices in their industry. They may also need to be willing to take risks and make tough decisions in order to steward their influence and resources for God’s purposes.
  • A teacher may need to cultivate their ability to communicate, inspire, and equip students, seeking out ways to integrate faith and learning in their classroom. They may also need to be proactive in building relationships with students, parents, and colleagues and modeling Christlike character and wisdom.
  • A stay-at-home parent may need to recognize and develop their talents in organization, hospitality, or caregiving, using them to create a nurturing and gospel-centered home environment. They may also need to be creative in finding ways to use their talents in their local church or community.

In each of these cases, the specific applications will vary depending on the individual’s unique talents, passions, and circumstances. But the underlying principles remain the same: identifying and acknowledging our talents, developing and cultivating them, using them to serve others, collaborating with others, giving glory to God, and being willing to take risks and step out in faith.

As we steward our talents in these ways, we can trust that God will use us for His purposes and glory, and that our faithfulness in this area will bear fruit that lasts for eternity.

Reflective Questions

  1. What specific talents, abilities, or skills has God given you? How have you seen these talents used for His glory and the good of others?
  2. In what ways do you need to grow in developing or cultivating your talents? What steps can you take to do so?
  3. How can you be more proactive in using your talents to serve others and advance God’s kingdom in your spheres of influence?
  4. Are there any areas where you need to take risks or step out in faith in order to steward your talents more effectively?
  5. How can you cultivate a posture of humility, gratitude, and dependence on God as you use and grow in your talents?

Stewarding Our Resources

Finally, in addition to our time and talents, God has entrusted us with various resources – such as money, possessions, and opportunities – that are meant to be used for His glory and the good of others. As stewards of these resources, we are called to manage them wisely, generously, and in alignment with God’s values and priorities.

The Biblical View of Material Possessions

The Bible has much to say about the proper attitude towards and use of material possessions. While God is the ultimate provider of all that we have (James 1:17), He entrusts us with resources as stewards and calls us to use them in ways that honor Him and benefit others.

On one hand, the Bible warns against the dangers of materialism, greed, and the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10; Matthew 6:24). It teaches that our ultimate security and satisfaction should be found in God, not in possessions, and that the pursuit of wealth can lead us away from faith and into temptation and ruin (1 Timothy 6:9).

On the other hand, the Bible also affirms the goodness of God’s material blessings and the potential for possessions to be used for His purposes. It gives examples of godly individuals who were blessed with wealth and used it to further God’s kingdom, such as Abraham, Job, and Lydia (Genesis 13:2; Job 1:3; Acts 16:14-15).

The key, then, is not to reject or demonize material possessions altogether, but to view them in proper perspective as gifts from God that are meant to be stewarded for His glory. This involves cultivating a heart of gratitude, contentment, and generosity, and making decisions about our resources that align with God’s values and priorities.

Principles for Stewarding Resources

The Bible provides several principles and practices for stewarding our resources in a way that honors God and advances His kingdom:

  1. Recognize God’s ownership and provision. The first step in stewarding our resources is to recognize that everything we have ultimately belongs to God and has been provided by Him. We are not the owners of our possessions, but the stewards, and we will one day give an account for how we have managed them (Psalm 24:1; Deuteronomy 8:17-18).
  2. Practice contentment and gratitude. Rather than constantly seeking more possessions or comparing ourselves to others, we are called to cultivate a heart of contentment and gratitude for what God has given us. This involves learning to be satisfied with God’s provision and to give thanks in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  3. Set priorities and budget wisely. Stewarding our resources well involves setting clear priorities and making intentional decisions about how we will allocate them. This may involve creating a budget, setting financial goals, and making trade-offs in order to align our spending with our values and responsibilities (Luke 14:28-30).
  4. Give generously and cheerfully. One of the primary ways we steward our resources is by giving generously to God’s work and to those in need. The Bible teaches that giving should be done cheerfully, sacrificially, and in proportion to what we have been given (2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Luke 21:1-4).
  5. Avoid debt and live within your means. While there may be times when taking on debt is necessary or wise, the Bible generally warns against the dangers of borrowing and encourages us to live within our means. This involves being disciplined in our spending, saving for the future, and trusting in God’s provision rather than relying on credit (Proverbs 22:7; Romans 13:8).
  6. Use resources to bless others and advance God’s kingdom. Ultimately, the purpose of our resources is not to accumulate wealth or possessions for ourselves, but to bless others and advance God’s kingdom. This may involve giving to our local church, supporting missionaries or ministries, or using our possessions to meet the needs of those around us (Acts 4:32-35; Luke 12:33-34).

As we seek to apply these principles in our daily lives and decisions, we may need to make some difficult choices and adjustments. We may need to re-evaluate our priorities, cut back on unnecessary expenses, or take steps of faith in our giving.

But as we do so, we can trust that God will honor our efforts and provide for our needs in ways that we cannot imagine. We can have confidence that our stewardship of resources, no matter how small or imperfect, is an act of worship and obedience that brings glory to God and bears fruit for His kingdom.

Examples and Applications

To illustrate these principles, let’s consider a few examples and applications of stewarding resources in different contexts:

  • A family may need to create a budget that prioritizes giving, saving, and living within their means, even if it means making sacrifices in their lifestyle or entertainment choices. They may also need to look for opportunities to use their home, vehicles, or possessions to bless others and build relationships.
  • A business owner may need to evaluate their pricing, compensation, and giving practices to ensure they are fair, generous, and aligned with biblical values. They may also need to be proactive in using their business resources and platform to support local ministries, meet community needs, or promote social justice.
  • A student may need to be disciplined in their spending and saving, avoiding the temptation to take on unnecessary debt or keep up with peer pressure. They may also need to look for creative ways to use their limited resources to bless others, such as volunteering, fundraising, or advocating for important causes.
  • A retiree may need to prayerfully consider how to allocate their savings and assets in a way that honors God and leaves a lasting legacy. This may involve setting up a charitable giving plan, downsizing their lifestyle to free up resources for ministry, or using their home and possessions to serve others.

In each of these cases, the specific applications will vary depending on the individual’s unique circumstances, values, and responsibilities. But the underlying principles remain the same: recognizing God’s ownership and provision, practicing contentment and gratitude, setting priorities and budgeting wisely, giving generously and cheerfully, avoiding debt and living within one’s means, and using resources to bless others and advance God’s kingdom.

As we steward our resources in these ways, we can trust that God will use us for His purposes and glory, and that our faithfulness in this area will bear fruit that lasts for eternity.

Reflective Questions

  1. How would you currently assess your stewardship of resources? What areas of strength or weakness do you recognize?
  2. What specific values or priorities do you sense God calling you to focus on in your use of resources?
  3. Are there any areas where you need to re-evaluate your spending, saving, or giving practices to align more fully with biblical principles?
  4. How can you cultivate a heart of contentment, gratitude, and generosity in your approach to material possessions?
  5. What is one practical step you can take this month to use your resources to bless others or advance God’s kingdom?

Conclusion

In conclusion, the concept of stewardship is a vital and transformative one for the Christian life. It reminds us that everything we have – our time, our talents, our resources – ultimately belongs to God and is entrusted to us for His purposes and glory.

As we have seen throughout this study, the Bible provides a rich and compelling vision for what it means to be faithful stewards in each of these areas. It calls us to recognize God’s ownership and authority over all things, to use our time, talents, and resources in ways that align with His values and priorities, and to do so with a heart of gratitude, generosity, and dependence on Him.

Stewardship is not just a matter of external behaviors or practices, but a posture of the heart that flows out of our love for and devotion to God. It is a recognition that He is the source and giver of all good things, and that our role is to receive His gifts with thanksgiving and use them in ways that bring Him honor and advance His kingdom.

At the same time, stewardship is also a matter of practical wisdom and intentional choices. It involves setting clear priorities, making trade-offs, and exercising discipline and discernment in how we allocate our time, cultivate our talents, and manage our resources. It requires us to be proactive and purposeful in seeking out opportunities to serve others and invest in things that have eternal significance.

Ultimately, the goal of stewardship is not to earn God’s favor or to measure up to some external standard of perfection, but to experience the joy and freedom of aligning our lives with His purposes and being used by Him for His glory. It is to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we stand before Him one day and give an account of how we have stewarded all that He has entrusted to us.

As we seek to grow in our understanding and practice of stewardship, we can take heart in the promise that God is faithful to guide, provide, and empower us every step of the way. He does not leave us to steward His gifts in our own strength, but gives us His Holy Spirit to transform our hearts, renew our minds, and equip us for every good work.

So let us embrace the privilege and responsibility of stewardship with renewed commitment, courage, and joy. Let us seek God’s wisdom and direction in every area of our lives, and trust Him to use us for His purposes and glory. And let us look forward with hope and anticipation to the day when we will see the full fruit of our stewardship and enter into the eternal joy of our Master.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!'” (Matthew 25:23, NKJV)

Reflective Questions

  1. What has been your biggest takeaway or insight from this study on stewardship?
  2. How has your understanding of stewardship as a whole (in terms of time, talents, and resources) grown or changed through this study?
  3. In what specific area of stewardship do you sense God calling you to grow the most in this season of your life?
  4. How can you cultivate a heart and mindset of joyful stewardship, seeing it as a privilege and a means of worship rather than a duty or burden?
  5. What is one practical step you can take this week to put into practice something you have learned about stewardship from this study?
  6. Take a moment to pray, thanking God for His goodness and faithfulness in entrusting you with time, talents, and resources, and asking Him for the grace and strength to steward them well for His glory.

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