Stewardship is the care and management of that which belongs to another. while we often speak of things as “ours,” the reality is that all that we have and all we are belongs to another — God. As the Apostle Paul put it, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). So it is from God that WE HAVE received our lives and everything in them for which we are responsible. Temporarily — that is, until God requires them from us — we are stewards of these gifts.
Though too often associated merely with money, stewardship has been memorably described as being stewards of our time, talent, and treasure. But stewardship isn’t just about being good managers of our schedules, our skills, and our stuff. The discipline of biblical stewardship calls us to use all these things in the way the Lord wants, to employ them for His glory. However, no one can be a bibl ical steward who doesn’t first understand the gospel — the story of what God has accomplished through the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Creates Stewards
The gospel is infinitely more than a ticket to heaven. It is a message that changes not only a person’s destination in eternity but his heart and mind here and now. The gospel transforms more than a person’s relationship to God; it also transforms a person’s relationship to everything else.
That’s why one of the most reliable evidences that a person has been converted is that he begins looking for ways to use his time, talent, and treasure in service to the gospel. When a person eagerly begins to use his resources to serve and spread the gospel, it testifies to the value he places upon the gospel and to the fact that he treasures the God of the gospel above all.
Sin makes us selfish and wasteful with all that we have and all that we are. But “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4) helps us to see that knowing Him is infinitely more important and valuable than grasping the clock and the dollar for ourselves. It causes us to find spiritual pleasure in using these things to meet the needs of others and to enable them to hear the gospel and turn to Christ. Coming to know Christ through the gospel leads us to evaluate our resources on the one hand and the souls of lost people on the other, and to say with the apostle Paul: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15).
Stewards Need Discipline
The discipline to steward our resources in an intentional, Godglorifying, gospeldriven way doesn’t arrive fully formed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit — it must be cultivated. Stewardship must be a discipline, for there’s always something else clamoring for our resources. Without discipline, the best intentions to use our time, talent, and treasure for the gospel will be overwhelmed by circumstances and the feelings of the moment, resulting in inconsistency or, worse, neglect in using our resources most effectively for the gospel.
In a sense, the discipline of stewardship is central to all other spiritual disciplines. If we don’t develop a God-centered use of our time, for example, we won’t consistently engage in personal disciplines such as prayer or the intake of God’s Word, nor will we participate faithfully in interpersonal spiritual disciplines such as corporate worship or Communion.
One of the classic passages on stewardship is Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30; Luke 19:12– 27). In it, the master rewards those who stewarded well the resources he committed to their care, and he punishes those who did not. While there’s much more we could apply from this text, one obvious point is that those who were considered faithful stewards were intentional — disciplined — about using for their master the resources he temporarily entrusted to them. God is pleased with disciplined — not careless — stewardship of that which belongs to Him.
What does disciplined stewardship look like? It’s using your spiritual gifts to serve God in your local church. It’s designating a portion of money for the church each month before paying other bills, so that the use of your treasure is consistent with your most treasured priorities.
Discipline enters the stewardship picture because it is so easy to waste our time, squander our talent, and be careless with our treasure. But even the most scrupulous use of our resources is worthless apart from the gospel. For it’s only through the gospel that we receive eternal time in heaven, glorified talents, and the richest of treasures — God Himself.