The faithful steward is someone who is doing the best he can with the things that God has given him. The Lord calls us to be faithful stewards in everything we do. This is why it is so important, among many things, to honor God with our time, gifts, money, health, and relationships.
We must understand that Christians are called to be faithful stewards all the time, not just on Sabbath morning when the deacons pass the offering plate. What about the stewardship of relationships? I believe it means treating others with respect and not taking anyone for granted, especially those close to us and those with whom we interact in the workplace.
When it comes to money, using it and spending it wisely, in a way that would honor the Lord, is the best course of action to become a responsible Christian steward. Honoring God with a faithful tithe (10 percent of our income) and a freewill offering is a demonstration of faith and gratefulness to God for what He has given us.
Being a steward of our health is also important. Caring for our bodies—the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19)—is our way of saying to Him, “I’m all yours, therefore I will eat nutritionally, exercise regularly, and feed my mind spiritually.”
Stewardship applies to everything we have been given. Our time, our money, our God-given gifts and abilities, our influence, our environment, it all comes from God. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) reminds us that faithful stewards take “calculated risks” in order to multiply what they have been given. The unfaithful steward was the one, who, out of fear, decided not to take a risk and was called lazy. Luke 12:48 says, “And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.”
Our finances tend to be the key area that people refer to when speaking of stewardship. I think the main reason is that life’s resources are most quantifiable in monetary terms, besides the fact that money is often one of the most difficult things for people to give. We may be OK with giving our energy, time, or sharing abilities, but money is not something that people give away easily, except for those with the gift of benevolence.
Remember that we come into the world with nothing and will leave with nothing. If we viewed all our possessions as merely being “on loan,” we may begin to see ourselves more as “stewards” than as “possessors.” The story is told of a well-known violinist who had in his possession a violin that was a couple hundred years old and worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars. The violinist viewed himself as a steward of the instrument. He knew that many great musicians had played the instrument before he was even born. And he never thought for a moment he would be the last to play the fine instrument. He understood that the age-old violin was just temporarily passing through his hands.
The violinist’s outlook on his violin illustrates the understanding of the role possessions should have in one’s life. We all may possess things, but ultimately, we never own them. Hence, like the violin, the water from our faucet is not ours to waste, nor the electricity that lights our home. As wise stewards, we may use them but should never abuse them.
I close with four important principles of stewardship:
1. God owns everything; I own nothing.
2. God entrusts me with everything that I have.
3. God wants me to increase/improve what I have, not decrease/diminish it.
4. God can call me into account at any time.
Are you a faithful steward? By His grace you can be faithful.
Donald G. King is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College, Inc., Board of Trustees.