Who is a steward?

Steward is a person who managers another’s property or financial affairs.
He is a person who administers anything as the agent of another.
A steward doesn't own the household but manages it.
And stewards in the ancient world were trusted with everything from seeing that the floors were clean, to the finances

A business manager who oversees a company’s resources including money, machinery and personnel in order to materialize the company’s purpose and values is a stewardship.
 Stewardship in OT

The idea of steward was familiar to the Old Testament period.
In the Old Testament the word for "steward" occurs but once in that sense in Genesis 15:2.
The Hebrew word mesheq (meh'-shek) is translated in King James Version as steward.
In some other versions it is heir or possessor.
Still the idea of steward is there in all these translations.

Eliezer of Damascus was Abraham's slave and trusted steward.
He seems to have had the oversight of all his affairs and was entrusted with the important duty of getting a wife for Isaac.
He apparently had charge over the family of his master as well as his property.
Jacob seems to have been Laban's steward for a time.
He apparently had full charge of the flocks and herds of his master.
Joseph was practically Potiphar's steward.

And so it may be safely inferred that every household of sufficient wealth had a steward in charge.
The functions of this officer seem at times to have included the care of the children or minors, as well as of the property.
Many stewards were no doubt slaves, while others were freedmen.

Steward in NT

In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.”
The first word is epitropos which means "manager, foreman, or steward."
At times it was used in the New Testament to mean guardian of a child as in Galatians 4:1, 2

The second word is oikonomos.
It also means "steward, manager, or administrator" and occurs more frequently in the New Testament.
It refers mostly to the law or management of household affairs.

Notably, in the writings of Paul, the word oikonomos is given its fullest significance in that Paul sees his responsibility for preaching the gospel as a divine trust.
God is the master of a great household, wisely administering it through His stewards.

The idea seems to have been perfectly familiar to the people in Christ's day.
In Jesus' time, the steward was the manager of the household.
The steward was not the owner of the assets, but a responsible administrator of the owner's property.
Every household of distinction seems to have had a steward in charge.
In the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, it is the steward who pays the laborers at the close of the day. (Matthew 20:8).

The parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16:1-13 best illustrates the practice.
This steward was a freeman, had full charge of his master's affairs and could use them to his own advantage if he chose, was fully accountable to his master and had to render an account when called upon.
If unfaithful he was usually discharged at once.

According to the passage in Luke 12, a steward's task was to manage all the affairs of his master, attend to receipts and expenditures, and portion out to each one of the household what should come to him.
The disciples of Jesus were left thus in charge of His gospel and were to use this gift to the best advantage in behalf of others until His return.

In the epistles, the application of this term is largely confined to the ministry of the gospel.
Paul and his fellow-laborers regarded themselves as stewards of the mysteries of God

1 Corinthians 4: 1, 2
1    Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
 2   Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.  (NKJV)

The idea is that he takes scrupulous care of that which was entrusted to him.
They give it out to others faithfully and as directed by his master Jesus Christ.

Peter considered himself and all other Christians as "stewards of the manifold grace of God"

1 Peter 4:10   As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  (NKJV)

What is Biblical stewardship?

As the Creator, God has absolute rights of ownership over all things.
Nothing in the Bible, including the doctrine of stewardship, will make any sense or have any true relevance if we miss the fact that God is the Creator and has full rights of ownership.

The Biblical doctrine of stewardship defines a man’s relationship to God.
It identifies God as owner and man as manager.
God makes man His co-worker in administering all aspects of our life.
God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification.
Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image.
That implies that we have the prospect and privilege to be full partners with God in maintaining His vast creation.
We serve as gifted managers commissioned to creatively oversee the resources around us in order to produce what God values most.

In essence, stewardship defines our purpose in this world as assigned to us by God Himself.
It is our divinely given opportunity to join with God in His worldwide and eternal redemptive movement.
Stewardship is not God taking something from us; it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people.

Stewardship is our obedient witness to God’s sovereignty.
It’s what motivates the follower of Christ to move into action, doing deeds that manifest his belief in Him.

Stewardship is the consecration of one’s self and possessions to God's service.
Stewardship acknowledges in practice that we do not have the right of control over ourselves or our property—God has that control.
It means as stewards of God we are managers of that which belongs to God, and we are under His constant authority as we administer His affairs.
Faithful stewardship means that we fully acknowledge we are not our own but belong to Christ, the Lord, who gave Himself for us.
In essence, stewardship expresses our total obedience to God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thus we are stewards of time, talents, treasure, trust, the earth, thankfulness, tithing, tradition, truth and relationships.
                                        Four Principles of Biblical Stewardship

The idea of Biblical stewardship is a wider concept than we usually think.
Here the concepts of faith, work and economics intersect.
Here are four principles of Biblical stewardship:

1. Ownership of God

The first sentence of the Bible is a statement about the ownership of God over this earth.

Genesis 1:1   In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (NKJV)

This is the fundamental principle of Biblical stewardship.
God owns everything; we are simply managers or administrators acting on his behalf.
Christian stewardship is a way of living in which we recognize that everything belongs to God.
All resources must be used for His glory and the common good.
Solidarity is the fruit of stewardship.

We are not the owners but have been trusted with resources and the care of everything.
We're trustees of talents, gifts, time, treasure, and the culture and values in the society around us.
A steward works to fulfill God's purposes in the world.

Therefore, stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control.  
Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service.
It is based on a confessional faith that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves.    

Deuteronomy 8: 18  "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.   (NKJV)

To make it meaningful, Adam and Eve had freedom to administer their tasks.
Their freedom went to the extent that they could choose to remain under the Lordship of God or to reject it.
God wants a willing submission as stewards from humans.
Stewards need freedom for a smooth management of the master’s property.
That is the sublime form of master and steward relationship.
2. Human Responsibility

A steward is a responsible and accountable person.
Freedom is responsibility.
Responsibility of a steward is how he treats everything that is entrusted to him by the master.
It includes our responsibility of what we do with the entrusted possessions.

In this world we talk about our rights; but God asks us about our responsibilities.
We have no rights; but only responsibilities.
Because owners have rights and stewards have responsibilities.

We are called as God’s stewards to manage that which belongs to God.
God calls us into responsible partnership.
And we are responsible to manage his holdings according to his desires and purposes.
Christian Stewardship refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed.

3. Accountability

Since a steward manages the possessions of another, he is also accountable to the master.
God has entrusted authority over the creation to us and we are not allowed to rule over it as we see fit.
We are called to exercise our dominion under the watchful eye of the Creator managing his creation in accord with the principles he has established.

This is the lesson taught by the Parable of the Talents.
Like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, we will be called to give an account of how we have administered everything we have been given, including our time, money, abilities, information, wisdom, relationships, and authority.
We will all give account to the rightful owner as to how well we managed the things he has entrusted to us.

4. Reward

The Bible shows us in the Kingdom Parables that faithful stewards will be rewarded accordingly.
Those who do the master’s will with the master’s resources can expect to be rewarded in this life and better in the eternity.

Stewards of Christ

As we have already discussed, we are all stewards of some possessions and influence.
The question is: "What kind of stewards are we?"

A starting place is the recognition that God has invited us to be responsible for our lives and resources.
We are not likely to manage well unless we acknowledge that we are managers.
We are not likely to exercise good stewardship unless we recognize that we are stewards.
What resources has God asked us to manage?
May be we may have a car, a house and possibly some money in the bank.
But we often look at these things as our own possession we have purchased with hard work.

But, are they really yours?

Our perceptive must change to the truth that all things really belong to God.
God has entrusted you with everything you have reckoning you as good steward to manage them according to His values and in pursuit of His extremely important agenda.

When we behave as though we own everything as a private property, we set our own rules for managing it.
That is where we fail as a good steward of God.
The result is mismanagement of all resources, talents, finance etc.
Mismanagement yields disastrous results.

When King Jesus came to earth, the kingdom of God also arrived.
And as the King’s voluntary subjects, Christians are to acknowledge Jesus as the rightful owner of the resources we manage.
That means we’re to manage His property according to God’s values and to accomplish His will according to His Word.

To make it really simple – everything from your backyard and bank account to your mind and body - is a resource that you must manage for God.
Let us remember always that God’s goal isn’t simply to keep us reasonably comfortable.
Jesus has a kingdom to build, and you’re a part of His management team in accomplishing that plan.
We are important members of God’s management team – stewards

Giving as an aspect of stewardship

Of course, stewardship includes how we manage our finances and our faithfulness in giving to God as tithes and offerings.
Stewardship is about our finance and much more than that.
It is a wider canvas.
The canvas grows to the management of our time, our possessions, our environment, our health etc.

The way we handle our money accurately reflects our faith – it’s an outward indicator of what’s going on in our spiritual lives.
Giving money to the cause of the Kingdom of God is one very important aspect of stewardship.

Christian giving is a responsive act.
It represents gratitude to God.
It is a symbol of self-giving.
Therefore, giving is not a once-for-all event, but a regular part of life.
It is a spiritual discipline that reminds us who we are and whose we are.

Frequent references to tithe or giving of a tenth portion are found throughout the Bible.
The tithe represents the returning to God a significant, specific, and intentional portion of material gain.
However, giving is not limited to the tithe or a specific amount.
Tithe is not a mathematical legalism.
Jesus proclaimed the principle of giving by his comment that the widow who gave a very small amount had given more than those who had given large amount.
Because she gave her whole wealth.

The main reason we should give to God is really for our own sakes.
When we give, we confess that He’s the owner of all we have.
We’re only managers.

Giving is an external testimony of Gods ownership of everything in our lives, and tithing is one of the first principles of giving found in the Bible.
But, the tithe is not to be understood as a limit.
Keep in mind that God doesn’t own just 10 percent of our money; the other 90 percent also belongs to Him.
God is more concerned about the attitude of our hearts in giving than the percentage or the amount given.

 Let me conclude this message.

Biblical view of stewardship connects everything we do with what God is doing in the world.
We need to be faithful stewards of all God has given us within the opportunities presented through His providence to glorify him, serve the common good and further his Kingdom. 

Stewardship is the way that we look at the world when we become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
At its heart is the recognition that all we have and all that we are is a gift from God. 

Before we stop this discussion, let us take the first step to Christian stewardship.
Make a clear and wise decision and hand over the ownership of all your resources to God.

The alternative will draw you to, or keep you in, the modern rat race that leads nowhere.

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