Hang around church circles long enough and you’re bound to hear about stewardship. Maybe your church is launching a stewardship campaign. Or it might have a stewardship ministry. But what does stewardship even mean? Unfortunately, some people think of it as an outdated term. Or they misinterpret it to mean giving and only giving. Others think of it as a heavy burden. They envision God looking over their shoulder, closely watching how they use money, saying, “Be careful. Don’t mess up!” Fortunately, none of that is correct. Biblical stewardship is about managing all that God entrusts to our care according to His principles and for His purposes. Here are five reasons why a proper understanding of biblical stewardship, and our daily practice of this important, highly relevant idea, are so needed.
It’s fundamental to who we are and how we’re called to live.
The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) provides one of the clearest depictions of how God intends for us to relate to Him and to money and material things. The wealthy landowner represents God, the servants us. Everything in our possession has been temporarily entrusted to us by God.
Just as a trustee has a responsibility to administer a person’s estate according to that person’s instructions, we have a responsibility to manage God’s resources according to His instructions.
“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful”.1 Corinthians 4:2, ESV
However, that isn’t a heavy burden, it’s an incredible opportunity. Of the three servants who had been entrusted with their master’s possessions to manage in his absence, two multiplied what had been entrusted to them. Upon his return, he strongly affirmed them, and then he entrusted them with more. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
It infuses our lives with great meaning and joy
The Bible teaches us to live others-centered lives—to love God (Matthew 22:36-38), love people (Matthew 22:39), and use our God-given gifts and talents to make a difference in this world (Ephesians 2:10). That very naturally leads to a life of generosity, about which Jesus famously said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Countless secular studies have backed that up, finding that the happiest, most fulfilled people are those who live generously.
It’s good for our relationship with God
The Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Think of something you own that cost a lot of money, maybe your house or car. Especially when you first bought it, didn’t you focus a lot of your time and attention there? When we invest in some of God’s purposes in the world, our hearts are directed toward God. Financially supporting God’s work in the world is one of the most effective ways to draw closer to God.
It’s good for our finances
God calls us His children and loves us as such. His Word also cautions that money is one of the primary stumbling blocks that can trip us up. It’s no surprise, then, that God graciously gives us a lot of very practical instruction about how to manage money well.
Consider this: If we develop a good work ethic (Colossians 3:23-24, Proverbs 13:4), plan how to best use the resources He entrusts to us (Proverbs 21:5)
- Live generously (Proverbs 19:17)
- maintain a reserve of savings (Proverbs 21:20)
- be cautious in our use of debt (Proverbs 22:7)
- invest with a long-term, patient perspective (Proverbs 21:5, TLB)
- take steps to protect our possessions (Proverbs 27:12)
- treat even small financial decisions with care (Luke 16:10)
- And keep money in its rightful place (Matthew 6:24)
If we do all of that, how could we not have a good experience with money?
It’s good for the next generation
Money management may be the most important life skill typically not taught in school. That’s why it’s so important for us to teach our children about money, helping them grow up with biblically-informed financial perspectives and practices.
As we grow in our understanding and practice of biblical money management, as we proactively teach our kids the same, and as we role-model the life of a steward, it will benefit our kids in countless good ways. It will deepen their relationship with Christ, benefit greatly their future marriage, free them to make the difference they were designed to make, and much more.
Matt Bell is the author of Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.
This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.