The scripture reading this evening has been taken from Jesus parable of the talents were he introduces us to a subject that is somewhat broader than just this parable. The basis for our study this evening is going to be the foundation of this parable rather than its contents. Our purpose is to study the scriptures regarding the subject of stewardship. Someone has said that: “The first symptom of a sick Christian is a sharp pain when he opens his pocketbook.” But our stewardship is not restricted to our returning a portion of God’s wealth that he’s blessed us with to His work, though that’s included. Let’s look at a definition of stewardship and then a couple of examples of who we’re talking about:
I. The meaning of Stewardship:
A steward is a trusted servant to whom a master, ruler or employer has delegated responsibility in helping to promote the affairs or business of that master, ruler or employer. Those that we choose as elders must be stewards of God:
Titus 1:7 “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”
Paul called himself a steward, because Christ had revealed the mysteries of God to him, mysteries being those things that were not understood by God’s people until such time as God chose to unveil them and make them understandable. So Paul, as an evangelist, an apostle of Jesus Christ and as a servant of God chosen to bring the gospel to the gentile peoples and was a steward in God’s kingdom.
I Corinthians 4:1 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
But stewardship is not restricted to elders, the apostles, or just preachers, or just deacons, or just Bible class teachers or any other group or groups of people we might name. Peter; writing as directed by the Holy Spirit, extends the mantle of stewardship to anyone and everyone who enjoys the blessings of the grace of God.
I Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
II. Where there is stewardship, there is ownership:
Observe, if you will, that even if we are not children of God by virtue of believing the Jesus is the Son of God, repenting of our sins, confessing His name before men and being baptized to remove the sin in our lives God still owns us.
We are God’s by creation:
Genesis “and God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The fact that if we make something, unless we’re being paid to make that something in the employ of someone else we own whatever it is that we might make. Therefore, since our God placed us here in this home he prepared for us then he owns us and our purpose is to serve Him, just as Solomon has told us:
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Observe further, that if we have indeed surrendered ourselves to God in obedience and have had our sins removed we are his by redemption in addition to being his by creation. God gave His only, unique Son so that we could have everlasting life:
John “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Paul explains that through him also we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins because of the riches of God’s grace
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
Paul further tells us that if we are redeemed, we are God’s. He not only owned us from the beginning because of creation but because we sold ourselves to the devil He owns again because he bought us back.
6:19-20 “19What? know ye not that your body is the
Thirdly, we are God’s not only because he created us but also because He sustains us by his divine providence. Paul tells us through his words to those at Lystra:
“Nevertheless he left not himself
without witness, in that he did good, and gave
Acts 17:25 “25Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;”
Acts “28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
The Psalmist reminds us also that God is the source of our material blessings:
Psalms 24:1-2 “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
And as though we would need more evidence, turn with me to read the words of Jesus:
Read Matthew 6:26-30
III. All Time, Abilities And Resources Have Been Entrusted to Us by The Lord to be Employed In His Service.
First of all let us consider time, God provided the physical process that brings us into being and the spirit that makes our bodies alive and something more than an animal so he also provides us the time that we spend here.
Job “21And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
God provides our beginning and our end. The Psalmist writes by the inspiration of God:
Psalms 90:10 “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
Many times the time given is shorter that man would like or shorter than we planned for because time is a commodity that cannot be replaced. Once we spend it, it is gone and when we look back it seems so short.
James 4:13-14 “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
Our time then is given by God, belongs to God and should be used wisely in God’s service if we are to be good stewards of His substance.
Secondly we will consider abilities or talents. Starting with the schoolmaster given to us for our learning we find the following:
Deuteronomy 8:18 “18But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
It is He that given thee power to get wealth. We couldn’t describe it any better could we? All of our abilities, our talents, our ability to reason, whatever level of competence we might achieve in any endeavor comes to us as a gift of God. With this in mind then we turn to the scripture read before the lesson:
Matthew 25:14-15 “For the
Jesus came, established his kingdom, gave us the opportunity to enter his employment as it were and has gone on His journey from which he someday will return. And we are like the servants in His parable, we have been given one or two or five talents, some level of capability that we are to exercise and produce an increase. We understand further that this is the only source of our blessing, we have only one master to serve.
James “17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Thirdly we will consider what we will call our resources; those material possessions that so many are so proud of and some jealous about. Are they really ours in the sense that we owe no one or nothing for our ability to accumulate them?
I Timothy 6:6-8 “6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
Remember what Job said. He came naked into this world and he would leave the same way. Paul affirms the same thing here. We brought nothing into this world and we will carry nothing out of a physical nature. Oh, you say, we will carry something out with us? Absolutely, we will carry out either the consequences for those things we have done or failed to do in this life or we will carry out the manifold blessings of God as His child. Its one or the other. But back to the basic subject of stewardship we will not carry out any of the physical resources that we might have accumulated while here.
Lets look at an example that Jesus gives us: - Read Luke 12:16-21.
Through the providence of God the rich man’s ground yielded plentifully. So much to that he just didn’t know what to do with it all. So he decided to tear down his storage facilities and build bigger ones, there was no consideration for his neighbor, there was no consideration that God might have blessed him because God had a purpose for those blessings. He is selfish, calling them “my fruits” and “my goods”. He plans to take his ease, eat, drink and be merry; after all it’s going to be a long time before he ever has to work again or to get more, life is wonderful. But is it? God says man you are a fool, because this very night the spirit which I gave you is going to be called home. Then who will all this bounty benefit? And we might add; of what benefit will it be at the judgment seat of God?
“Our” resources really aren’t ours but resources for which God has given us stewardship. And in doing so has given us at the same time the responsibility, just as in the parable of the talents, to provide an increase to His benefit, to His glory, and to the glory of His kingdom.
IV. What Does Good Stewardship Involve?
First of all it involves faithfulness. Observe with me if you will:
I Corinthians 4:2 “2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
What does the word required mean? If we are to be good stewards, faithfulness is mandatory, there is no escape, there will be no excuse acceptable by an all-knowing God.
Secondly it involves obedience or the taking of orders. First we go to the schoolmaster, the Old Testament:
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “2And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”
God required of
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the
Obedience to God is still the key to whether we will be considered by Him as faithful children or not, whether he will consider us good stewards or not. Obedience that most men today deny but that is still plainly clear if we but turn to the scripture.
Thirdly faithful stewardship means that service to God must take precedence over our obligations to family, friends and government. Hear the words of Jesus himself:
Matthew 10:37-39 “he that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Does this mean that we are to neglect our families? Of course not, that would be contrary to New Testament scripture:
I Timothy 5:8 “8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
What it does mean is that our families, or friends or our service to our government should not come between us and our service to God. If we raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and select a help meet for us as we find in God’s words, a spouse appropriate for us then we will have a family that is all in harmony in their service to God without disagreement, working together and all serving God as his faithful stewards.
We follow the example of the apostles when Jesus called them to serve him in a special way:
Luke 5:10-11 “10And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”
We have another example of Peter and John in
Acts -20 “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Peter and John gave no thought to the consequences of their obedience to God, they knew their duty and proceeded to do it.
What about you my friend? How faithful is your stewardship? Are you even in a position to be a steward of God because first we have to be members of God’s kingdom, God’s family. Membership gained by hearing His word, repenting of our past sins, confessing the name of Jesus before men and being baptized to wash away your sins. Are you in God’s kingdom but have neglected your stewardship, then repent of your shortcomings and pray God for forgiveness.