Summary: A sermon on Stewardship
A Tale of Three Stewards: Principles of Stewardship
February 15, 2015
TEXT: Please turn to Matthew 25
Today we’re beginning a 3-week study of biblical stewardship, life prioritization and giving, followed by a missions emphasis in the run-up to our missions conference March 19-22. What exactly do we mean by “stewardship?” Webster’s Dictionary defines stewardship as “the proper care, supervision, and management of that which belongs to another.”
Illus. – In 2007 our kids came over for the Christmas holidays and we took a family trip to Interlaken, Switzerland and back. We borrowed a van from a local church so we could all travel together. After we had traveled all the way there, eaten snacks and meals and ice cream in it, drank Lord only knows how many coffees and soft drinks in it and trudged in and out of the snow—of which there was plenty—we returned it to the pastor.
All the while, I was very careful to take special care of it since it didn’t belong to me. When we returned, I vacuumed it out, ran it through a car wash and generally gave it a thorough cleaning. A couple of days after returning it, the pastor’s wife commented that she and her husband that they were amazed at how nice the van looked when they got it back. She said people routinely borrow their van and return it in a mess. I can’t imagine doing such a thing, because I knew that I was a steward of someone else’s van, and I wanted to be a GOOD steward.
Biblically, the idea of stewardship for God’s people weaves it’s way throughout the Bible. The teaching of the Bible is that we’re stewards of all that God has given us and we’re not only to OVERSEE it, but to INVEST it for eternal rewards.
There’s no better illustration of this than in the Parable of the Three Stewards in Matthew 25:14-28. In this passage there are four key principles of stewardship clearly laid out for us. Let’s look at them:
I. THE FIRST PRINCIPLE IS THIS: WHAT YOU HAVE IS NOT YOURS – Verse 14 – “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.”
This landowner or wealthy man was taking a long trip. Given the uncertainties of travel in those days, the time of return for even a well-planned trip was often open-ended. So before beginning such a trip it was common for wealthy people to delegate the supervision and increase of their wealth to trustworthy servants or employees. Once the master’s property and wealth were placed under their management, they were expected to bring a return on what had been handed over to them or otherwise well maintained or cared for.
Now remember this: There was no doubt in the minds of these servants that the property and money put in their possession still belonged to the master.
• They were the POSSESSORS, but not the PROPRIETORS.
• They were the MANAGERS, not the OWNERS.
• Their job was to MANAGE the wealth that belonged to their master for HIS interests, not for their own benefit.
The same is true of us: Never forget that everything we have has been entrusted to us and is not really ours in the first place.
• Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
• In Psalm 50:10 we read, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.”
• Haggai 2:8 adds, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.”
We think all the wealth in the world belongs to those who possess it, but really, it’s God’s—ALL of it.
Dick Towner states, “While materialism’s highest value is POSSESSION, Christianity stresses STEWARDSHIP of God’s possessions. The foundational principle is that we do not own our “stuff,” but rather God ENTRUSTS it to us to serve as his trustees.”
So this is the principle: God has the RIGHTS; I have the RESPONSIBILITY; He is the MASTER; I am the MANAGER; He is the SOVEREIGN; I am the SERVANT.
Now, have you allowed this basic principle to permeate your thinking? You see, you and I don’t really own ANYTHING. EVERYTHING belongs to the Lord. Our gifts and abilities are on loan from HIM. Our MONEY is an “advance” from the Almighty to use for His glory. Our houses, cars, clothes, and ALL our possessions don’t belong to us. We really don’t OWN anything. We’re just managers—of what GOD owns and has entrusted to our care.
II. THE SECOND PRINCIPLE IS THIS: GOD HAS ENTRUSTED YOU WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE – Verse 15 – “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several [the Greek word here means “his own individual”…] ability; and straightway took his journey.”