Summary: This is the first in a series of stewardship messages focusing on building a life of stewardship. This message investigates themes of ownership, responsibility, and accountability.
Pt 1 ¡V A Firm Foundation
This morning I want to begin a series of messages for stewardship month focusing on building a life of Christian stewardship. What is stewardship and what does it have to do with us? First let me dispel some myths about stewardship:
Stewardship is not just another word for giving ¡V stewardship is a defined lifestyle. It includes everything in life from the most exciting to the most mundane. Giving is only a small part of it.
Stewardship is not a source of income for the church ¡V it is a way of life for those committed to Jesus Christ.
Stewardship is not so much about obligation as it is about obedience.
Stewardship doesn¡¦t start in your life until it starts in your heart.
So what does the Bible say about stewardship? A lot. . The fact is that Jesus talked about stewardship of our resources far more than any other subject recorded in the Gospels. Jesus talked about stewardship in 1 out of every 10 verses recorded in the Gospels. So let¡¦s look together at what Scripture can teach us about building a life of stewardship.
Here is something to think about ¡V every structure, no matter what it looks like ¡V begins with the same thing ¡V it is in fact the most important piece of the structure ¡V it¡¦s the foundation. Today let¡¦s look at the foundation of a life of stewardship
It starts in Genesis chapter one ¡V In the beginning God¡K
1) It begins with God - The key to a good foundation is Ownership - All things start here ¡V these words are not only the foundation of all scripture they are the foundation of all life. In the beginning God¡K John said it this way ¡§All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.¡¨ Make no bones about it ¡V this is the foundation of the Christian life and walk. If God is not creator then we are free to do as we please ¡V If He did not create us then He has no authority over us. If He is creator then He has all authority ¡V He is the owner ¡V From Genesis to Revelation the scriptures make it clear that God is the creator ¡V he is the owner of all that is.
„Y Psalm 24:1 ¡V ¡§The earth is the LORD¡¦S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.¡¨
„Y Deuteronomy 8:18 ¡V ¡§But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.¡¨
In any and all things God has the final word ¡V not because He is bigger, stronger, and smarter than we are (which is true) but because we are His creation. Until we settle this issue we are always going to have problems in the area of management and stewardship. John Maxwell says, if I believe that I am the owner then I am going to be in constant conflict with God over what I do with the stuff I have. But the moment I understand that God is the owner and I am the manager then all conflict disappears because all that I have; my health, my life, my possessions, my family, everything is not mine but His.
2) Moves to Us ¡V God entrusted all that He created to man¡¦s dominion ¡V Gen 1:28 God has given us dominion over His creation ¡V what does that mean ¡V it means that He is still the owner He has just entrusted the care of what is His to us. That is the heart and foundation of stewardship. Here¡¦s the rub though, with dominion comes¡K
„Y Responsibility ¡V We are responsible for managing resources the way God (the owner) would. We are not given dominion to trash, destroy, and exploit. We are given dominion to manage, protect, and cultivate. The earth and its resources are not given to us to abuse but to manage. Is conservation, recycling, and proper development of the land a new concept? No it is the very directive of God when we were charged with stewardship over the earth and it¡¦s creatures. Stewardship goes far beyond what you do with your money ¡V it speaks to the way you live your life and how you interact with the world around you.
„Y Accountability ¡V He has given us as stewards to accomplish His will in the world. Let me put this simply ¡V most of you have a 401K or a retirement plan with your work. What would you think if you found out that when you retired the managers of that money had spent it on lavish trips, gambling, and prostitutes instead of investing it for your future. Isn¡¦t that a bit of what God finds when he looks at our stewardship of His world? Instead of investing ourselves in the future and heart of God we squander our resources on lavish living and things that will never last. Whether it is the world around us or our families and things we have ¡V stewards are expected to hand the owner back what is His and a return on His investment. What return can you show for your stewardship of God¡¦s kingdom?