TRAIN: The Discipline of Stewardship

Photo by  Amanda Richards

Suppose someone were to randomly give you $10,000. What would you do with it? Obviously, the gift wasn’t something you were expecting or even deserved. They simply wanted to be a blessing to you. Would you invest it? Put it into savings? Maybe make some renovations on your house or pay off some debts that you owe? Perhaps you would just deposit the money in your bank account and go about your day. Regardless of what you would choose to with the money, you would inevitably respond to the gift that was given to you. This is known as “stewardship.”

The Responsibility of Gifts

In Matthew 25:14–30, we see a similar story of stewardship. Here, a man gave portions of his money to three of his workers as he temporarily left to go on a journey. When he returned, two of the workers had invested the money wisely and doubled their portion. The third worker, however, was afraid that he would lose the money, so he hid it away until he was able to return it to the man. For the first two, the man rewarded their faithfulness by essentially giving them a promotion. Yet, for the worker who hid the money that was entrusted to him, the man took it away and gave it to another.

Jesus tells this parable to teach us a vital lesson about stewardship. As in the story, each person has been given different gifts by their Creator. This is part of the beauty that is God’s creation. Just like the story, every gift from Creator God deserves a response from the one who has received it. In the parable, the man temporarily entrusted his workers with portions of his property. In the same way, our sovereign God, who owns everything, has temporarily entrusted his people with portions of what it his. Unlike the story in Matthew 25, however, God’s gifts to us extend far beyond the money we have and the possessions we own. Every second, every breath, every relationship… everything that we have in our lives is not ultimately ours. It belongs to the God who created it and who has graciously given it. Stewardship is how we use and respond to these gifts.

The Freedom of Giving

It is incredibly freeing when we view the different elements of our daily lives in this light. We are no longer trying to simply accumulate and achieve. Rather, our response to God’s grace is to receive and steward. Sacrificial giving (of our time, money, gifts, or anything else) is not only easier but also exceedingly joyful when we recognize that nothing is ultimately ours in the first place. Our time, talents, and possessions are grace from God. Stewardship is learning how to bend that grace out to the world around you for the glory of God.

Contrary to other blogs in our “TRAIN” series on spiritual disciplines, I’ve chosen not to end by listing out some practical steps for cultivating stewardship in your life. The truth is, each of us has been blessed with different gifts from God the Father. Because of this, stewardship is going to look different in each of our lives. Instead of following practical steps, my challenge to all of us, myself included, is to reflect on all that God has given and entrusted to you. As you process God’s grace in your life, praise him for it. Then, with these things in mind, GIVE! Give in the same way that God the Father has given to you: graciously, wisely, sacrificially, and completely through his son, Jesus Christ. Create a culture of bending the grace of God out to the world around you, and you will not be disappointed to one day hear God speak the words the man in the parable spoke to his faithful workers: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’” (Matthew 25:21).