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The Opportunity of Biblical Stewardship

Our identity has a huge impact on how we think and what we do. That’s why, if we want to manage money well, it’s so important to understand who we are in God’s eyes, financially speaking. And why it’s so sad that many of us get this wrong.

Let’s start with who we are not. We’re definitely not consumers, despite our culture’s all-out efforts to convince us otherwise. By definition, a consumer is one who destroys, uses up, or spends wastefully. Look it up; it’s right there in the dictionary.
I don’t know about your Bible, but the Bible I read doesn’t say that on the sixth day God made consumers who would destroy, use up, or waste all that he made in the previous five days.
It says, He made…
Ah, that’s where we get tripped up. If you’ve been around church circles for any length of time, you would fill in the blank with stewards. And you’d be correct. That’s definitely an accurate description. Just look at the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), which describes God as temporarily entrusting us with all of his possessions. Going back to the dictionary, a steward is one who is charged with managing possessions belonging to someone else.
So, it’s accurate to think of our selves as stewards, but in countless instances I’ve seen people use the word with slumped shoulders and downcast eyes. Apparently, some people think of stewardship as a heavy burden or responsibility—kind of a drag. It’s as if God handed them some things to manage and told them, “Now, be careful. Don’t lose or break any of this stuff.”
But those aren’t His instructions at all. In fact, think of the one servant who didn’t lose or break anything entrusted to him. When the Master returned, he handed it all back just as he received it. The Master’s response? A harsh rebuke.
As for the other two, both of whom had doubled the value of what was entrusted to them, the Master had strong words of affirmation. And then He promised them more to manage.
The life of a steward is actually an incredible opportunity. The Bible says God entrusts us with His resources based on our ability, and as we prove ourselves trustworthy, He entrusts us with more. This isn’t about getting rich. It’s about having an impact — providing for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), living generously (1 Timothy 6:17-19), sharing the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).
And He doesn’t just turn us loose, leaving us to find our way. He shows us the way with clear instruction. Give as a first financial priority (Proverbs 3:9), save a portion (Proverbs 21:20), avoid the bondage of debt (Proverbs 22:7), invest patiently (Proverbs 21:5), spend wisely (Luke 16:10).
The frequency with which people misunderstand what it means to be a steward is why you may prefer to think of yourself as a wise builder. That’s what Jesus called us to be in The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27).
Consumers build their lives—financially and otherwise—on the shifting sand of the culture. We’re called to live differently—to build our lives on the solid rock of God’s word. It isn’t a burden. It’s an incredible opportunity.

Matt Bell is the author of four biblical money management books published by NavPress. 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.

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