Today’s post is a guest contribution from long-time friend, Bishop Ronald Wilson. He currently serves as the General Superintendent of the Congregational Holiness Church, a position he has held since 2003. As a longtime church leader, he has spent countless hours in the study of the topic he has written about. Enjoy today’s offering and as always, please know that your comments and interaction are welcomed. ~ William
Stewardship is most often viewed from the sole perspective of finances. When churches speak of stewardship Sunday, it usually pertains to setting a short term goal for a special project or perhaps a yearly budget for ministry outreach and proposed operating expenses. Pledges are made and promises are given with respect to each individual’s desired participation in attaining a certain goal.
References to the “tithe” or giving of a tenth are found throughout the Bible. The tithe represents returning to God a significant, specific, and intentional portion of the material gain. However, giving is not limited to the tithe. Neither can it be defined by a specific love offering amount as illustrated by Jesus’ comment that a woman who gave a very small amount had given more than those that had given large amounts because “while they gave out of their abundance, she gave all she had.”
For the Christian, true stewardship goes far beyond the dollar bill. Our time, talents, abilities, material possessions and wealth all come into the equation of our service to God. In recent years, a Biblical world view of stewardship has been defined as “utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.” This view maintains that true stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believer’s life in a manner that honors God and impacts eternity. Since everything belongs to God, we should not be careless in our handling of God’s resources. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
The first example of mankind’s stewardship in the Bible comes from Genesis 2:15. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” A literal application is that God wants us to serve in the garden where He plants us and to make wise use of the resources given. The same God who created the universe and everything in it also created us and gave us certain responsibilities to ensure godly principles, and blessings are passed from generation to generation.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus give us an example of stewardship which necessarily involves time, abilities, vision, and finances. “For the Kingdom of Heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey… After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.” Two distinctly different responses from that reckoning are found in this passage. The same response is heard by the first two servants: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” But unto the third servant, we find a reckoning which stands in sharp contrast from the first two. “His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We should all be striving to hear the “well done” response at our individual reckoning.
King David was once presented with what many would have seen as a financial act of kindness toward him, but David saw it differently. 2 Samuel 24:24 states, “And David said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.”
It is obvious from the Holy Scriptures. Whether it is finances, time, talent, or abilities, God is looking more at the heart than anything else. May we have a heart that hungers to serve, desires to give, and passionately wants to please God. This is stewardship which gives God the worship He deserves.