Stewardship is a concept which runs right through the Bible. It begins in Genesis 1 where God creates the world, and designates it as something that He owns, but which we are to look after. It carries on throughout the Old Testament, where the Israelites receive, but never own, His covenants and presence. And then in the New Testament, through the sin offering of Jesus Christ, we can declare Him as our Lord, give the ownership of our lives to Him, and be restored to God. For those of us that make this choice of salvation, He becomes the rightful Lord and owner of our lives from that point, and we become stewards of the new life that he has given us, free from the power and penalty of sin.
A short word study on the word ‘stewardship’ in the Bible reinforces this view. In the Old Testament we see the word steward appear 6 times, and each time it’s a composite set of Hebrew words meaning ‘one whom is over’, for example in Genesis 44:1 and 44:4 where Joseph commands the steward of his house (the one whom is over his house) to put a silver cup into his brother’s travelling bags. This steward is clearly managing the different items that Joseph owns.
In the New Testament Greek we also see reference to stewardship, and it’s used a total of 13 times. The Greek word used is ikonoméō, which means managing a household properly, a type of administration where a person looks after another’s affairs / resources. The word is used most by Jesus in Matthew 20:8 and Luke 12:42. In both passages, the steward is managing finances with their own authority, but also in the knowledge that the underlying assets belong to someone else.
So looking at the big picture of the Bible, but also these specific Hebrew and Greek words, we can suggest a definition of a steward as one who is commissioned to be in charge, who is given authority to be over certain resources, and who manages those resources that belong to another.
As I have reflected on the relevance and application of all this, I have identified 5 areas of our own personal lives in which we need to be prayerful and positive stewards.
- TIME How I love to laze around and watch TV! And goodness me how much time do I spend scrolling through my phone!! Outside of work the average person has 40 hours each week of awake-time. Am I stewarding my time in line with what God wants from me?
- TALENTS What are the natural strengths and gifts that God has given me? How well do I steward them to contribute into the local church and give glory to God? This might be musical ability, hospitality, administrative strength, building friendships, or other creative abilities.
- TREASURE I’ll focus more on financial stewardship during an upcoming sermon, but for now let’s remind ourselves that all our money belongs to Jesus; He is our Lord, and His priorities and plans should be those we earnestly seek to prioritise ourselves.
- TESTIMONY God expects that His children will tell of His goodness in their lives to the people they meet, (see 1 Peter 3:15.) In fact, we are instructed to go into all the world and share that news. How well do we steward this responsibility that Jesus has given us?
- Our TRUE BEING This is the private area of our life and character which others may not fully see… but which we know deep down. Psalm 51 says “create in me a pure heart oh LORD.” God sees the deepest part of our hearts – our reactions of anger or spite, our bitter thoughts, our lustful moments, our envy and jealousy. He sees our characters as though it’s written out in large print, and He sees the extent to which we are seeking to live by His spirit in our true being.
‘Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ I encourage you to pause, pray, and take some quality time with God to review how you are doing in these 5 T’s of stewardship. This could be something you choose to review over 5 different quiet times, or it could be something you have a frank and open conversation about while walking with a friend. Let’s excel together at being stewards with these wonderful resources which God has given us in our lives. Let’s steward them with integrity, joy, energy, and faith.