When we talk about stewardship in the church, we are talking about what we do with what we have, whether it be money, natural resources, our gifts, etc. It is very easy to become selfish with these things, but Jesus calls us to a different path. The only way to affect change in our stewardship habits is to get our minds around the big picture. In the fast paced fury of everyday life, it is often too late to battle selfish tendencies if we’ve not developed the proper mindset ahead of time. Here’s the key.
A “steward” is someone who manages someone else’s property or affairs. When it comes to money, natural resources and our gifts, the key insight for the Christian is that all of it belongs to someone else (God) and we are merely caring for that which is not our own. All you need to know is embedded in that word, “stewardship.” You are caring for things that are not yours.
Giving our money or making sacrifices for the protection of what we’ve been given is a discipline that pays huge spiritual dividends. When we give or protect, we reaffirm our conviction that we are just creatures in a world created by a powerful and good God. We shatter the idol of “self,” who wants to be god and wants to be in control of everything. We remind ourselves that ultimately our needs will always only be fulfilled by our Creator. We’ll never have enough money to protect us from every possible catastrophe, but God is enough. As it says, he owns the cattle on the thousand hills (or, in modern terms, “he owns the markets on a thousand wall streets”). Many people have found a freedom in giving that far surpasses any sense of loss they could have experienced.
So, how do we give and how do we protect? In terms of giving, many Christians talk about 10% since this amount is used so frequently in the Old Testament as the amount to be brought to the temple. This is a great starting point, but if we truly have the heart and mind of Christ we will keep 100% of what we have at his disposal. For those who have a high earning power, why not set a dollar amount equal to what is necessary for living expenses and then cap it there? Everything earned above that amount is prayerfully given to kingdom work. People using this method have ended up giving 30%, 40%, 90% or more.
With respect to protecting the resources we have, Christians don’t have a great reputation for this at the moment. But, in Scripture, we have every reason to be leaders in this arena. This world is a precious gift from God and to trash it carelessly is to take his gift for granted. One of the resources below can help you think through this area more biblically.
Giving: Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:7
Protecting: Gen. 1-2, Psalm 104
Saving God’s Green Earth, by Tri Robinson
The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn
Saving God’s Green Earth online documentary
1. If you are not currently giving 10%, begin to change that by increasing .5-1% per month. Notice how this affects your Spiritual health (and your financial health).
2. Watch the video link above and take action.