The Perception of Stewardship PI

ahm-keepin-my-money

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:3-5: From God’s perspective, what are the standards for stewardship are we are to have?

First off, 1 Peter tells us that we are chosen by God and by God alone! The Holy Spirit sets us apart. We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life. And of this, we should know; yet, we need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. 

As we know, stewardship and tithing are hot subjects today and Christians seem to love to debate them. Unfortunately, most seem to have a skewed idea of what these subjects entail, and only impart their ‘assumptions,’ and ‘desires,’ not the facts from God’s Word. I just read through some Christian blogs and Facebook posts about this topic, and what amazed me was how people were arguing back and forth out of total ignorance, from both sides. Some people, saying they were pastors, were getting Greek words totally wrong and passages out of their context. People claiming to be mature Christians were using inappropriate language and tone, putting the other person down and even verbally attacking those who did not share their skewed opinion. Neither group was willing to dig into the text of the Bible to see what it really says; they just wanted to spout off with their preconceived ideas.

As a former academic debater and postgraduate student, I know that it is essential to form an argument on facts and logic, and not emotionalism and presumptions. With Scripture, this is fundamental and essential! Nevertheless, these message boards were all filled with assumptions and emotions, no real facts, no word studies, no thought-through doctrinal arguments. It was just, “what I believe” or “what my church does.”  Oh, how sad this is! The Bible was being used just like a buffet, to pick and choose what would fit their experiences and mindsets, ignoring the rest, and unconcerned to what God’s Word really said in its simple, clear, and concise form. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The key is context–not reading into it what is not there, or taking out what is there.

One clear theme emerged from these message board “discussions.” People did not want to take responsibility for what God’s Word said, or what stewardship really means in applying it to their wallets.

Know this, emotions and personal Will, will block reason and Scripture. Instead of carefully crafted arguments, people misused the Word to force their views so they did not have to give to the church. I was dumbfounded, and thought these must be high school or young college students who never read a Bible, but some of them said they were pastors! I do not know if that is true, due to the immaturity of their language and arguments, but it would seem that the checking of facts and conviction of the truth were definitely absent.

The mature Christian may realize his or her responsibility in stewardship and then struggle in prayer and with family about what to give. And do it chearfully!

He/she will seek God’s Word for how he/she can serve Him and the church. A mature Christian should never rationalize that it is good not to follow his/her call, use his/her gifts, refrain from sharing his/her faith, or not to give. As persons saved by grace, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ has done for us so we naturally desire to serve Him with all of our heart and means. Yes, you are not forced to do anything, because as His elect, you are saved by your faith alone in what Christ has done alone—period! But, as James tells us, what good is it? What good would you be (James 1:22-25; 2:14-19)?

Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)! Make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. (Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character)

 

©  2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

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Stingy is Unfaithfulness

Stingy is Unfaithfulness b

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

 

Read Matt. 25:14-30: Take a look at, “You wicked, lazy servant!” Now, what is the meaning of unfaithfulness?

Have you ever considered that when we are stingy with the resources God gives us we are being unfaithful? That we are betraying His trust, letting down our Lord and Savior?

Look at it this way, greed, stinginess, selfishness, and miserliness are the rotten fruits, because we hoard what God has given us, what He meant for us to share.

We do not use properly as Christ has given and called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and His “living water” from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to either the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force-the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

When we are just stingy we are being self-seeking, we are selfish and unconcerned with eternal values or with serving our Lord. By doing this, we fall into a trap, because we are not doing as we should. As a result, natural consequences will take over. God’s precepts are for our benefit and protection; He gives us what is best for us, and we are to pass it on, just as loving parents would do for their child. By not placing ourselves first, we are able to place Christ first and we end up with a better deal. We can seek the His love, and this will compel us to share our richness as Christians with both ourselves and with others. So, out of our completeness in Christ, we can build ourselves up in Him, casting away what has hurt us, what causes us to fear, and what is wrong, replacing it all with biblical stewardship and values. This will be laid on the foundation upon which to create the lasting bonds with Christ and others, as we glorify our Lord and live in and for His Church (Prov. 10:12; Matt. 6:33; John 12:24; Eph. 5:15-21; Phil. 2:21; Col. 1:13).

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time and resources and not sharing, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless or hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are to have?

  • Stewardship recognizes that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, in fulltime ministry etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

When a Christian is giving from selfish motives, he or she expects a return for his or her “investment.” When a real, growing, mature Christian gives, he/she expects nothing in return. One investment is eternal, while the other so-called Christian investment is about the world of just for today.

Thus, a key aspect of stewardship and love means we are not selfish. How do we know if we get this right?

If you do not care for others outside of your circle, then you are demanding your own way because your pride is in the way of His Way, and sin is on its way to you and from you! Our lives will be a false dedication to things that are not centered upon His will. We cannot earn our way, but our way must reflect His work (Rom. 6:12; Eph. 5:15-17; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:24)!

 

Stewardship is Proportionate

stewardship life

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.” Matthew 25:14-30

We are to love Jesus, even though we cannot see Him or touch Him. This may go against common sense, but the reality of His grace and impact can sometimes be hidden by our desires, circumstances, and feelings. The same as it is with faith and finances, each one should influence the other as a mark of true Christianity. This is the test of faith and trust, if we see no hope, we then must look to our Lord; then the hope is given and can be seen. The reward of our faith far outweighs any endurance or struggle we face. The joy we have is real and significant (John 20:29).

Read Matt. 25:14-30: What is the meaning of unfaithfulness? How does that relate to stewardship?

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless nor hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are having?

  • Stewardship recognizes that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

The Providence of Stewardship

What is a good way to have good Stewardship? We talked about gratitude, now, one more key word, Providence!

Providence (Genesis 50:20; Job. 38:1-41:34; Psalm 103: 19; Daniel 4:34-35; Acts 2:22-24; 14:16; Romans 1:26-32; 11:33-36; James 1:13-17)

Providence is the doctrine that gives us the knowledge and comfort that God is Sovereign, and thus, He is in control. We are not mere rats in a meaningless maze, where there is no divine plan or purpose.

God, indeed, is in control. Thus, he is in control of our lives and in our finances, if we allow Him to do so.

He does, indeed, have a plan; there is no stray molecule in the universe that does not have His hand of control over it. So, let Him have your checkbook! Be wise with His principles!

Jesus tells us that God knows when even a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows the number of hairs on our head–or the number of hairs we do not have. Therefore there is no chance, no luck, no gambling, no fate, in the worldly sense, to what if or what may have been or what is, as all things happen according to His plan.

 Providence gives us the comfort that Christ is in charge; there are no accidents or mistakes. All we are and have is for His glory and we are His steward.

Or, you may feel you have made a lot of bad decisions in life. If you feel you made too many money mistakes or feel overwhelmed, angry or even prideful that you are entitled, get over yourself and fall to your knees to the Providence of Christ!

Well, you have–we all have made bad choices—but God is still working things out for good (Rom. 8). Therefore, we have no need to dwell upon the past, complain, or play the what if games or fight with our loved ones. Just reboot to His plan and precepts and see your life change for the better, in stewardship and in life!

 How would a healthy biblical view of Stewardship, Gratitude and Providence help you and your church?

Good Stewardship means to have the Attitude of Christ!

Precepts of Stewardship from 1 Peter 4: 1-11

 Are you chasing your desires or our Lord?

The answer to this question will determine not only how you handle stewardship but even more important, what direction in life you go as well as if, when, and how sin will entice you to fall! Sin is coming; we can either draw near to God to stay clear, or draw near to sin and thus away from God and His best for us. The great news is that Christ gives us the ability to stand firm in Him. The key is, we need to want to! Peter’s people were being slandered and taken advantage of, and they were becoming disillusioned. Peter’s call was to stand firm in faith and not worry what others do as long as we look to Christ wholeheartedly (1 Pet. 2:12,15, 23; 3:9, 16; 4:4,14). Thus, the best defense is the offense of righteousness and demonstrating the good life in Christ!

This passage in 1 Peter 4, also gives us comfort in suffering because Christ Himself suffered, which gives us a better picture on how we are to view stewardship. He, who is God incarnate, who totally did not deserve to suffer, suffered on our behalf. He endured great physical, mental, and spiritual pain on our behalf, and exemplified the attitude and conduct we are to have when we go through the tough stuff of life to how we handle the stewardship of all we are and have. The call for us is to be prepared and equip ourselves for what lies ahead in life. We must have our expectations based on reality and in faith, so when something comes our way—whether it is a blessing or a problem—we can take it, handle it and mange it with excellence, learn, and grow from it. Then, in turn, we can be a blessing to others because of it. However, we cannot do that if we are not following Christ and taking heed to His example, His grace, and His love so we want to respond. Otherwise, our desires will fill that gap and will get the best of us. The sins of others and the sins of our heart will break us down and take us over unless we focus on Christ, His ways, and His path.

What does it mean to exemplify the attitude and conduct of Christ? What would that look like in your life?

The challenge to this call is the world’s ways. Sin is so enticing we can easily slip off God’s path. Thus, we need to be willing to suffer so sin does not entice us. We become more guarded against sin because a bigger picture is in our sight—Christ, His example, and our willingness and commitment to follow. When we see Him and not our personal viewpoints and desires, we will grow, mature, and be prepared for anything!

God’s will is the determining factor in life, how He wants us to be wise stewards of all we are and have and could have! It all comes down to this; will you follow His will, or yours and the world’s? Which one do you think brings the most blessings and contentment?  Thus, we are to be trained and are to be prepared with Christ’s attitude, outlook, knowledge, and experience. We are to prepare for injustice and suffering!

“Pray” is meant to line us up in His will and with His empowerment (Luke 18:1; 1 Cor. 7:5; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 5:14-15).

A warning is given to us, the end of the world is coming! And a warning about sin, “time in the past” this refers to sin and its power to weigh us down so it defines who we are and traps us in the past. We all have past mistakes and wrong choices, but Christ freed us so we no longer need to be weighed down by them! Peter’s congregation had a pagan background that was very alluring; he is telling them (and us) not to let it draw them or become a part of their new life (Rom. 1:12:13; 6:1-14, 19; Gal. 5:19-21)!

Life and our opportunities are limited; thus, we are to make every effort to represent Christ and make the most of what we are given for His glory. We are stewards of all that we have, whether small or great. The better we use our gifts, the more generous He is with us with more gifts, abilities, and opportunities. We are called not to waste our opportunities, but to be diligent and faithful with our call, abilities, and prayer with love and hospitality. Do what God has called you to do and do it with passion, truth, and in love!

Thus, what is our call here? The key word is Hospitality, refers here to taking in travelers with generosity—not grudgingly or with complaining.

Even more so, it is how we view our life in general, since we have Christ’s love flowing in us, it should flow to others around us. This means we are to be willing to give preference to others, to look out for and look after one another, and to share, with discernment, what God has given us, including our family, home, finances, and food. We are to have an attitude of stewardship where we do not own anything because we are merely the caretakers for the real owner, God. He desires us to share His stuff, and we comply out of reverence and gratitude to Him. Thus, as we come along side others, we are to welcome them and act out our faith in real, helpful kindness, generosity, and deeds. This includes providing help and lodging to fellow Christians, helping those who are being persecuted, and helping out in our community (Matt. 25:34-43; Luke 10:30-37; Rom. 12: 3-8, 13: 16:33; 1 Cor. 12:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:10; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 1:5-8).

Thus, we do as the passage states, use whatever gift means we are to practice our spiritual gifts, and realize that the diversity we have is beneficial for one another. It also means being charitable or generous to others with what Christ has given you, and to serve Him without being held back by fear, time, or lack of talent. As Christians, we are to typify faith and reason together so we can exhibit the maturity needed to make wise decisions and have a purpose in life. This also means directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed, and poor. However, some Christians will have a specific call and empowerment to do this. People in the world may be more concerned for their own needs and agendas than they are for God’s clear doctrine and purpose, but as Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well and be careful how you speak and minister as we sometimes speak for God as He uses us (Titus 2). Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:4-21; 16:1; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!

The phrase, God may be praised, means for us to be good stewards, as we are called to live, serve, and do all that we do in life for the honor and glory of our Lord and Savior (Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 1:26-31; Jude 24-25)!

So how do I make this work? Answer this, does Love cover you? Do you use it to cover others? We are to be fueled and empowered by love in all situations. Christian love is the turning of our backs on our self-concerns and facing our neighbors. It is the surrender of our will to His. If love does not take us beyond our self-interests, then we have only lust and pride, not real love! God’s love must be our model for life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us. God’s love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it. Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on (John 13:1; 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 John)!

What get in our way? Our hurts, fears and past. God does not want us to be controlled by the past or to be fearful or cowardly.

Rather, we are to learn from our experiences and grow from them so we can be better at stewardship, but not be tied to them so they become our identity. We have been born again in Christ; our old life is old, and it is no longer who we are. Thus, we are to grow closer to Him and be an example to others who are still in the old life without being influenced and enticed by them. Our focus needs to be what is going on now, what God is doing, and how we can contribute to it. Not just what can I get, but what can I learn and gain to be better for His glory? Take comfort; God does indeed have a plan for you even when you cannot see it. His will for your growth in Him is clear! He wants you to be faithful and good so others can see in you a demonstration model for the new life that they can have too. He gives you the ability, the power, and the strength to endure and to enjoy (Gal. 6:7)! The most important aspect is for us to keep our eyes focused on Christ, with racehorse blinders on to block off the rest.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5 – 8)

© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D.

Church Stewardship

Precepts of Stewardship from Colossians 1:24-29

Paul’s Labor for the Church 

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.  (NIV)

Are you happy when you can suffer for others? Being poured out, used, exhausted—even abused by the church in which you serve? How is your church stewardship? 

By Christians who connive against you, who take advantage of you? Paul was! He saw it as His service of stewardship to our Lord! Suffering for the church is like continuing the suffering Christ did for the Church! This is not about being abused; it is about being totally dedicated to serve and not be self-centered or only pursue what suits and pleases us as leaders.

God has given us responsibility with our “church stewardship,” and when we lead, we have to take this seriously. Our church leadership responsibility is simple; we are to proclaim Christ’s message and be His display case for others to see His Word and Work. This is also an incredible opportunity and privilege as countless others through the millennia would love to have this occasion that many of us squander or misuse or become apathetic about! We should be pleased to tell people about Christ and His message, and do so cheerfully as God cheerfully gave it to us.

For the big secret is to effective church stewardship is simple, it is where our focus and trust is placed: Christ, the One, True, God, and Creator of the Universe, lives in us as believers. He is our assurance, hope, and reason for all we are and do. And we, as leaders or not, should be grateful to share in as we display His Glory. So let us learn and grow so we can be better at knowing Him and showing Him as we depend on Christ and His Mighty Work in us—empowering us!

This passage in Colossians is the display showing us that Christ’s Lordship is universal and cosmic, crossing space, time, and thought. He is eternal—always was, and is, and will be! God comes to us as The Sovereign LORD and “pursues” us. He is the giver of unmerited redemption. He has come as an impact to the universe as His redemptive work impacts our hearts and minds. So, He is displayed by our lives as He is displayed in the universe. This is how we become good stewards with His Church. In context, this passage also tells us that since Christ is the Firstborn of all creation, He must also be so in our spiritual lives and in the leading a church. If Christ is not first in our lives, He won’t be so in our churches ministries, boardrooms or decisions, and this puts us on shaky ground, bound to crumble!

Paul’s point is that Christ is Supreme and the head of the universe and the Church, including the one we lead. if we do not get this we become not only deficient in our churches stewardship, we become disloyal and disobedient to His Lordship. Christ is above all and He is the all in all! It is His Church we merely mange it of His glory! If we do not get this we are in the wrong! Then, false teaching will replace sound doctrine, just as it did in Paul’s day, as so many misguided churches whose teachings do nothing but distance and distract people from God, His precepts, and His call (Eph. 1:21-23; 4:15; 5:23).

What does stewardship mean to God?

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1)

            The word, stewardship, simply means to manage someone else’s property. For the Christian, as Scripture proclaims everything belongs to God, we manage the property of our Lord. Since everything belongs to Christ, we need to have the attitude and view that our things are His things, our stuff is His stuff, that all we could have now, all we have lost, all we will have, is His, including our very bodies and spiritual gifts. We are mere lessees of the property, money, relationships, talents, time, and even our lives. That means all that we are and all that we have are not really ours to begin with. They belong to God. So, the duty of the Christian is to learn how to become responsible stewards of our Lord’s resources entrusted into our care. It means to manage everything to the best of our abilities for His glory (1 Cor. 4:2).

Read each of these verses: Proverbs 3:9-10; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; Ephesians 5:15-16 

  • What does Paul have to say? 
  • What does stewardship mean in these verses? 

           Stewardship is a reflection of our spiritual condition! We should never separate money and finances from our spiritual life. The distinction that the material world is not for the Christian is an old heresy called Gnosticism. The material world is God’s too, and we are the stewards, the caretakers, of it.  So, how we allocate the resources that God places in our care is a prime Christian duty that has no separation from the spiritual depth of Biblical character and maturity. All the areas in our life of work, learning, relationships, spiritual gifts, and resources will come through our obedience or our laziness–to God’s glory or to waste.  

Try to see it like this: we are on a playground that God owns, building equipment for the furtherance of the kingdom. At the same time, the storms of the devil and our complacency cause a hindrance and breakdown to the work. With spiritual strength we can fend off the devil, but it takes diligence, and a will surrendered to God to build the park and play the game.