Stewardship

Chapter 4

In this chapter …

God has appointed you and me as His managers on earth. He gave man dominion over the earth with the command to subdue and rule over all that He has made.This implies that we carry a very heavy stewardship responsibility and that we ultimately have to answer to the King of Kings. This would imply that God owns your time, talents and efforts and ultimately that God owns your business. You are simply being entrusted to run this business for God on earth. Therefore following Godly standards and examples of stewardship would apply to your business. This include being productive, making a profit, working towards an earthly but also an eternal reward and running the race to win.

 _________________________________________

“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’” (Gen 1:26 – The Message)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:27-28 – ESV)

“My business is not a reflection of who I am, but of what I do for God as a steward of what He has entrusted to me” – Rob Lucas

Introduction

As we have seen in the first two sessions, our ultimate goal in life and in business is to imitate God. We keep our eyes, our full attention, focused on Jesus – the author and
perfecter of our faith.

God has desired for us to be like Him right from the beginning: Let us make human beings in Our image. However, straight after that, God expresses the wish that, since man is reflecting the nature of God, he must be responsible for the earth and everything in it. He commands man to fill and subdue the earth, and to have dominion over everything on the earth. The common believe in ancient times was that kings were appointed by the god’s, being a representative of the particular god and ruling on His behalf.

The creation narration in Genesis 1 picks up on this tradition, but with one major difference. God did not create one ruler or king, but he gave dominion over the earth to every human being created in His image. However, with the fall, man gave this authority to Satan. Isaiah 59:2 sums up the result of the fall of man perfectly, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (ESV) While there is separation between God and man, we have no authority. Jesus often refers to Satan as the “ruler of this world”, (John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11) and Paul speaks about the “prince of the power of the air.” (Eph 2:2).

Children of God

With the victory of Jesus over death on the cross, dominion over the earth was again restored to man and we were reconciled to God (Eph 2:16, Col 1:20). Now we were again able to take up dominion over earth as God intended right at the beginning. But, we are more than kings appointed by God as His representatives. We are children of God. Paul very  loquently points out this truth in Romans 8:14-17: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (ESV)

The concept of adoption has changed significantly since the time Paul wrote to the Romans. Our concept of an adopted child is that, in an ideal situation, the adopted child becomes like the other children of the household. However, in Roman times, adoption was
much more significant. When a father noticed that his own children did not have the natural talents, skills or aptitude to manage the family’s wealth for future generations, he would find a child who does possess these abilities. The adopted son then became the equivalent of the “first-born”, with all the privileges that this brought.

Julius Caesar adopted Octavius in this way, with Octavius later becomming the greatest Roman emperor of all time – Augustus Caesar.

With our adoption as God’s first-born, we are again appointed as rulers of this earth, as stewards of God’s property on this earth. We become co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)

Stewardship defined

The term “stewardship” designates dominion, authority over a house, a household manager who is responsible to God for management and leadership. Responsibility for
property is given to God’s servants as stewards, and they are to use this property for the welfare and benefit of others. (MW Kohl, SABJT, 2007) Stewards are also to use this property for their own (responsible) enjoyment.

There are a few basic stewardship principles that one must continually be aware of:

Stewardship

1. God owns everything

The Bible is full of Scripture proclaiming the truth that God owns the earth and everything in it. Christians are stewards of everything that God owns. Everything belongs to God, and we are merely taking care of that which belongs to Him. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

2. Stewardship includes productive work

God’s command to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” implies that doing productive work and doing it well is a command. In this way we are also to imitate God. In the same way that God has looked back at the end of creation and assessed it “as very good,” so we must look at our productive work in the same way. Moses assessing the completed tabernacle is an example of this. ‘Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.” (Ex 39:43 – NIV)

3. Stewardship includes making profit

In the parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:11ff), Jesus encourages His disciples to make a profit. After the noble man returned, having been appointed king, he required a set of
financial statements from each of the servants. The first servant reported a 100% return on investment, and was praised by the master, and he received a bonus. The second servant reported a 50% return, and whilst not praised, also received a healthy bonus. The last servant however, who reported no profit, was rebuked and the capital entrusted to him was taken away from him and given to the most efficient servant. God not only expects us to look after what he entrusts to us, he demands a profit.

4. Good stewardship carries an eternal reward

Even though we can look forward to an eternity without sin or evil in Heaven, the Bible teaches us that we can expect varying degrees of reward. In the parable of the ten minas
referred to above, the first servant receives authority over ten cities, whereas the second servant, even though he also pleased the king, only receives authority over five cities. Similarly Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” (NLT)

5. Good stewardship carries an earthly reward

The idea of an earthly reward for how we deal with what we are entrusted with fades into
insignificance when compared to an eternal reward. Yet, Jesus promises a reward “in this age … and in the age to come.” (Mark 10:30). Jesus teaches in the parable of the minas in Luke, and the parable of the talents in Matthew that if we are faithful with little, He will entrust us with much. This is a general principle taught in the Bible. This principal is also borne out in our day-to-day life. No one will entrust anything of significance to you unless there is some kind of evidence that you have been trustworthy with that which you have been intrusted with thus far.

6. Good stewardship is competitive

We have all been admonished at some point in time in our lives not to be “so competitive”. The concept of competitiveness is often portrayed as “unchristian” behaviour, not because of competition itself, but because of the evil produced by competing for the wrong reasons. Selfish ambition, jealousy, division and strife within groups or ommunities are often the fruit of competition. In essence competition is often competing for a limited resource. In sport there can most often be only one winner, only one learner can come first in class and there are only so many customers. Wayne Grudem summarises this concept best when he says, “Competition seems to be the system God intended when he gave people greater talents in one area and gave other people greater talents in another area, and when he established a world where justice and fairness would require giving greater reward for better work.” In 1 Corinthians 9:4 Paul says it very simply: “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.” (ESV)

Conclusion

As can be seen above, stewardship is not only about tithing, paying your taxes and your suppliers and paying your employees a fair wage. It is more than offering your absolute best to
those around you. It is about making a conscious decision to glorify God in everything you do. Paul sums it up best when he admonishes the Colossian church “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him … Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for
men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
(Col 3:17, 23-24: ESV)

We will pursue the practical implications of this in the study group questions below.

Further reading

Business for the Glory of God – The Bible’s Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business, Wayne Grudem, 2003, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois

Study group questions

How do I exercise stewardship in my relationship with:

a. God

b. Government

c. My church

d. My suppliers

e. My employees

f. My family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Christian business principles, based on Biblical Truth