Stewardship

For many the word “stewardship” is synonymous with “money.”  While money is a major part of stewardship, stewardship is a much broader subject than just money. In fact, limiting our thinking to money could be a cause for us to fail in our various stewardships.

Stewardship is a major theme in the Bible. This may not be apparent at first, but a deeper look will reveal it. Lucifer, for example, had a stewardship. In accordance with  Isaiah 14:12–17 and Ezekiel 28:12–19, it is believed that this highly intelligent and beautiful creature was given the responsibility of protecting the throne of God from any taint of unrighteous, much like the Attorney General is empowered to administer justice. As the “anointed cherub that covereth” he was Divinely appointed to represent God in His government. (“Cherub” is derived from charab, “to cut or engrave,” such as engraving a coin with the representation of the President, King, etc.) The first appearance of the cherub in Scripture is in the garden after the fall when God placed cherubim as agents of His government to keep fallen man out.

We also see the cherubim in the Tabernacle overlooking the mercy seat, no doubt as agents of God’s government to assure that righteousness is never compromised. As brother Jennings writes, “Never must mercy be exercised at the expense of righteousness, for as they (cherubim) were ‘of one piece with the mercy seat,’ so mercy must be of one piece with righteousness.”  Whether in the garden or in the Tabernacle they had a stewardship given to them to maintain order.

A solemn warning is given to us in the fall of Lucifer. While his desire to be like God is evident (Isa. 14:13–14), it was his occupation with self that produced this desire. (Ezek. 28:17) His God-given beauties and wisdom became the very things which caused him to fall. So too with us, the very beauty, wisdom, blessings, spiritual gift, etc., with which we are blessed can become the very thing that produces pride and self–occupation. (The blessings of the Lord are not to be blamed for the fall of Lucifer and others, it is the failure to recognize that they are “received” and not self-generated. Paul states this so succinctly, “Who makes thee to differ? and what hast thou which thou hast not received? but if also thou hast received, why boastest thou as not receiving?” (1 Cor. 4:7)) Those blessed with earthly possessions and those graced with spiritual enablements must be aware that these very God-given blessings can become the very seed from which pride arises. There must be a constant awareness of their source!

Adam too had a stewardship.  He was made in “the image” of God and as such he was God’s representative. He had God-given dominion over “the whole earth.” (Gen. 1:26) In addition, he was given “a help” that was “meet,” or suited for him. God created the women and brought her to the man, and thus Adam was given another stewardship, that of caring for and protecting his wife. (Gen. 2:22) (If those of us who are husbands understood our stewardship regarding our wives we would have a differ view toward them and our marriage, for stewards must give a report of their stewardship. [Luke 16:1–2])

Adam also failed in his stewardship. Like Lucifer he desired a higher position, that of being God. Rather than representing God, he too became self-occupied and sought to be what he was not, nor could become. Since the fall of the “first man,” man has failed to represent God, both in his behavior and in his religion.
Joseph was a faithful steward. It is said of him, “Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.… Behold, my master knoweth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.” (Gen. 39:4,8) Joseph was faithful even in the absence of his master. What an example to us who await our Master’s return. (Luke 19:15)

 In contrast with the “first man” Adam, the “Second Man” Christ fulfilled His stewardship with absolute perfection. He Who is God was not self-occupied with His glory, but rather was willing to lower Himself and take the “form of a servant,” and to be “made in the likeness of men.” And “being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:6–8) He could say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4) Truly a “faithful steward.” (1 Cor. 4:2)

All Christians are stewards! It is true whether we realize it or not.  Accountability goes with stewardship. Each of us will give an account for those things which the Lord has placed under our care and direction. We are to utilize them, whether spiritual or physical, to His glory. “How have I ‘utilized’ those things He has placed into my care?”  would be a good question for each believer to ask.

A faithful steward is aware of his stewardship and of his accountability. Being accountable the faithful steward adheres to the Master’s directions and desires. He utilizes his God-given abilities. He is available when the Master calls. This requires a brokenness. A dying to self and his desires, and a yielding to those of the Master.  Many, many saints are unavailable due to the commitment to other interests–business, sports, hobby, social life, etc.

 Lastly, a faithful steward will have the aim of honoring the Lord. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” He also said, “It is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” (1 Cor. 4:3–4) His primary concern was what the Lord thought of his work. What he and others felt about his labor was immaterial.

Stewardship goes well beyond my money and ultimately includes my very being. It is not only what I will do with those things which God have placed in my care, but what I will do with my very life! Only one life…soon will be passed! May we be found to be faithful stewards.