Summary: Being good stewards in the kingdom of heaven requires implementing some practices that promote our stewardship.
This morning we’re going to wrap up our five week series on stewardship in the kingdom of heaven. We began five weeks ago by establishing four foundational principles. Since these are so important, let’s review them one more time:
Foundational principle #1:
• God owns everything
Foundational principle #2:
• God has appointed us to be stewards of what He owns
Foundational principle #3:
• We will be held accountable for our stewardship
Foundational principle #4:
• Stewardship is required in all areas of my life
We built upon those foundational principles as we discovered that God wants us to invest our time, talent and treasure in His kingdom and that we do that by investing in the lives of people in order to help prepare them for eternity. We added to that foundation as we saw that Jesus desires that we cultivate a life of contentment, which occurs when we make His kingdom and His righteousness the top priority in our lives. And then last week, we completed building on that foundation by examining seven principles for New Testament giving.
We certainly haven’t covered everything that the Bible teaches about our stewardship in the kingdom of heaven, but we certainly know enough now to begin putting all these principles into practice in our day-to-day lives. So what I want to do this morning is to help you do that by describing some very practical steps that we can take in order to be obedient to Jesus in this area of our lives.
Once again, we’re primarily going to focus on our financial resources today, but many of these steps can also be applied to our time and our talents as well.
There are a lot of very good resources available that provide much more detailed instruction than I’ll be able to give this morning, and I encourage you to take advantage of those resources. Among those resources are a number of people right here in this body who have great experience and training in this area and who have volunteered to be good stewards of their time and talents by sitting down and working with those of you who may need some additional help in this area. Their names and contact information are listed at the bottom of your sermon outline this morning. If you’re struggling at all in this area, I really encourage you to contact one of them and get some additional help.
With the limited time that we have this morning, I’ve narrowed it down to just five steps this morning. As you’ll see, these five steps all work together and are interrelated. You can’t just pick out one or two and ignore the rest.
Making My Stewardship Practical
1. Work hard
We see evidence all around us that many people in this world have developed a real entitlement mentality in which they feel like they are entitled to a certain lifestyle regardless of what they do. In our country, we certainly see this in many of the “Occupy Wall Street” participants. While there is no “official” list of demands, one of the common things the participants are seeking is “a guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.” In other words, everyone is to be entitled to some level of pay regardless of their education, skills or work ethic.
In Greece, people are rioting in the streets because their government is bankrupt and has been forced to adopt so called “austerity measures” in order to get their budget back in balance. Among those measures are a reduction in the government health care system and reduction in Social Security benefits.
It is certainly true, as we have consistently seen, that we are completely dependent on God for all of our needs. But that does not mean, however, that we are merely to sit idly by and wait for God to just drop everything we need into our laps. In fact, the Bible consistently points out that God values hard work.
Much of the Biblical instruction concerning our finances comes from the Proverbs and that is certainly true when it comes to this first step.
Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
Proverbs 13:11 (ESV)
In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 (ESV)
But perhaps no where do we see this clearer than in Paul’s command to the church in Thessalonica:
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV)
Many in the church there expected Jesus to return soon, so they were just mooching off of others rather than working for their food. But Paul told them they needed to get back to work and quit depending on others. Now certainly there are those who are unable to work through no fault of their own. And for those who are members of the body of Christ it is clear that we have an obligation to help meet their needs. But for the vast majority of us, God meets our physical needs through the jobs that He provides for us. And He expects us to work diligently there.