Monday, February 26, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - Stewardship: What Does it Really Mean?

As a child in Sunday School, I learned the parable of the talents which goes like this: Before going on a trip, the master divided up his talents (i.e. a considerable amount of money) between three of his servants. Of his three servants, he gave one five talents, one two talents, and another one talent. The servant with the five talents invested them wisely and his five talents became ten. The same for the one with the two - his two talents became four. But the servant who got one talent hid it out of fear from his master and did nothing with it. The master was upset and gave that one talent to the servant who had the most.

This story was always used to exemplify the
meaning of stewardship and that one should use wisely what God has given to them. As a child, I didn't initially connect this to money, but as I grew older I did.

In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.” The first word is epitropos which means "manager, foreman, or steward." From the standpoint of government, it means “governor or procurator.” The second word is oikonomos. It also means "steward, manager, or administrator" and occurs more frequently in the New Testament. (gotquestions.org)
As I researched this post, I realized that there are two similar parables told at different times: Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27. Many applications can be gleaned from both stories but we are focusing on handling what is entrusted to us or the Biblical definition of stewardship.

Both parables drive home the following principles around stewardship:

  1. God created the world and everything in it.
  2. He gives each of us talents in the form of actual talent and resources.
  3. It is an act of faith when use what is given to us wisely.
  4. When motivated by fear we can squander our talents.

The common thread throughout these principles is God: He made, He gave, and we use what He gave us. The biblical doctrine of stewardship defines a man’s relationship to God. It identifies God as owner and man as manager. God makes man His co-worker in administering all aspects of our life. It's all connected to God - our money, our time, our gifts, everything. The apostle Paul explains it best by saying, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

In the story of the talents both of the servants who doubled their master's money were called good and faithful servants. Both were rewarded with increased responsibilities in their master’s service and both were invited to share in their master’s joy. For the servant who hid his talent, he earned condemnation. Faithfulness was rewarded; unfaithfulness was condemned.

As a child, after hearing the parable of the talents in Sunday School subconsciously I always wanted to be a good steward. I wanted to be faithful - using what I was given to me to bring God glory while fulfilling my purpose. So as I child, I was taught that whatever I did, or whatever I put my hand to do, do it heartily as unto the Lord (Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 10:31). My application of these principles morphed from reciting Bible Verses without error in Sunday School, to giving my best to my academics, to being the best call center technician, to supervising employees at a large financial institution. I could achieve a level of success because of what He had given me. Then as God blessed my efforts, it didn't feel tedious or obligatory to be a generous giver, it felt like second nature.

I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but the freedom with which I give is a recognition of God's sovereignty in my life. When I graduated from college I had student loan debt - not a lot maybe $10,000. But living within my means as a young newlywed with children allowed us to eliminate this debt in a short period of time. I have seen in my own life that a generous heart allows you to be available for opportunities that unwittingly help you manage your finances wisely. I know that stewardship is not God taking something from us; it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people.

To those who use well what they are given, even more, will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Matthew 25:29 [NLT]

How do you manage what God has entrusted to you?


--Nylse

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8 comments:

  1. Stewardship can be a hard topic and you've handled it beautifully. Thank you for your thoughts today!

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  2. Thank you for reminding me to do all i do as unto God. God Bless you

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  3. My husband and I just read this passage together this weekend! It was a wonderful reminder that I can't squander what God has given me, even if I feel like it's not as much as I want. Like with blogging - it can be hard to remember that even though I don't have a huge following, I'm being a good steward of what He has given me!

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  4. Nylse, I'm always glad when my random clicking on a linkup lands me here! Good.

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  5. It is so easy to overlook this connection to God in ALL things, and I appreciate the reminder to steward even the smallest parts of our life.

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  6. Love this, Nyse! You said it so well.

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  7. Such a beautiful testimony, Nyse! It sounds like you were taught stewardship the "correct" way. It is harder, I think for those who were not raised with this concept. But as we grow closer to God and learn to love Him, stewardship as an act of obedience quickly turns to an act of love. Blessings on your Sabbath!

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  8. In church last weekend our pastor was talking about the same thing. We talked about it in terms of Luke 10 - "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones..." Stewardship is such an important subject. Society tells us, "More, more, more..." but it doesn't talk about the faithfulness in that which we have been given. Thanks, Nylse, for sharing this at #MomentsofHope! You are appreciated!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

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