Summary: Stewardship is how we manage everything we keep. Stewardship is a role, giving is an act, and generosity is an attitude. Since God created and still owns all we have, stewardship is recognizing that God is the owner and we are his managers, responsible for using God’s possessions to please Him.
New Sermon Series Begins today on Stewardship. This is not a series about giving more, but more on managing those things that belong to God. To help you understand the biblical position I will be taking on this matter of stewardship, let me ask you a simple question: If you made $1,000 last week, how much of it is God’s?
I know many of you are doing the math and said, “$100.” You see tithing is not the principle I’m dealing with here. Though tithing can and should be a part of stewardship, it is not the principle of Stewardship. The correct answer is not 10%, it is, “all of it.” God owns it all.
Deuteronomy 10:14 (NKJV) Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.
Job 41:11 (NKJV) Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.
Considering that all things are God’s, God is the rightful owner of all we have, then we must carefully manage all of God’s things. This is the very essence of our Stewardship. It is not only what we give, it is also how we manage all that we keep. Today I hope to make this clear: "Stewardship, Generosity and Giving Are Not The Same."
I now realize, using these terms interchangeably confuses people. Stewardship is a role, giving is an act, and generosity is an attitude. In biblical times, a steward was a respected person of high integrity who was entrusted with the master’s possessions. The steward managed the possessions in accordance with the master’s wishes. Since God created and still owns all we have, stewardship is recognizing that God is the owner and we are his managers, responsible for using God’s possessions to please Him. This elevates “stewardship” for people.
Generosity involves a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others. Giving is merely the act of releasing something of value.
Giving can be done without generosity (the Pharisees are one example), but you cannot be generous without giving.
However, generosity is only one characteristic of a biblical steward. A steward’s primary responsibility is to manage the resources that are not given away.
We will take a look at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14–30 for a good example of both positive and negative stewardship. Remember, we manage God’s possession to please Him, not ourselves. This parable is one of several Jesus teaches in His Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25). The context of this parable is the end of the age and His return. What should we be doing until His return?
Matthew 25:14–30 (NKJV)
In the movie Papillon, (you remember the 1973 movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, and their escape from Devil’s Island, a very cruel French prison, there is also a 2017 remake) The main character, Papillon, was a criminal who was imprisoned unjustly for life for crimes against the French state. The movie portrayed the dreams he had while in prison. While in solitary confinement, in one dream, he stood before a tribunal for a crime. He pleaded with the judge that he was not guilty of the crime for which he was being tried. The judge replied that he was not being tried for that crime, but for a crime that is the most heinous crime of the human race. Papillon asked what crime it was. The judge replied, “The crime of a wasted life.” Papillon wept, “Guilty, guilty.” The judge pronounced the sentence of death.
What is a wasted life? What God sees as wasted may not be what we see as wasted. A very successful man by worldly standards may be a wasted life by Godly standards. A wasted life. I see wasted lives all over. Those who waste their lives with drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, crimes, and let’s not forget downright laziness, which is clearly condemned in the scriptures.
A life that is wasted is one that could have accomplished great things for God. That is the potential for each one of us. This passage today is all about stewardship. Stewardship over what has been entrusted by God to our care and use.
Matthew 25:14–15 (NKJV) “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
The players in this little drama is clear. Jesus was the man leaving, and the implications is clear. He is returning. We do not know when. In that day when someone took a long journey, you may say I’ll return next month or even next year, but events, and transportation were unreliable so you really did not know when.