Pastor Dominic Cardamone
Stewardship is an important subject, yet it (especially when focusing on the finance aspect of stewardship) can be a sensitive subject. For pastors, it can be an uncomfortable subject to address at times because they can be perceived as money-hungry. You’ve perhaps experienced or been witness to poor practice regarding organized religion and stewardship. The media swarms over financial impropriety and extravagance among church leaders sadly bringing shame to the name of Christ. Nevertheless, the Word of God has much to say by way of stewardship (finances), and it would do the child of God well not to shy away from a proper examination of the subject.
The Principle of Ownership
Before we can discover more about biblical stewardship, we must first understand and embrace the principle of ownership. The way we handle money, possessions, and the resources available to us demonstrates who we really believe is their true owner—God or self. The subject of rightful ownership is a foundational issue in the practice of business and law. The creator of a product or idea is generally the recognized owner, who then reaps the benefit of exclusive privileges not afforded to anyone else (copyright laws, etc.). But when murky circumstances throw true ownership into question, tremendous resources are sometimes consumed to establish exactly who is authorized to reap the rewards. And the rewards, or the loss thereof, can be extraordinary—just ask the original participants in the Facebook phenomenon. The subject of rightful ownership is also a foundational issue in the practice of our spiritual walks as well. The mindset we have on this will greatly impact the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Let’s look at a few verses that establish this basic principle. God’s Word opens with a declaration of ownership: “In the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1). This remarkably simple yet profound statement is the ultimate ownership clause. God created everything. As Creator, he holds the certificate of ownership for the world and everything and everyone in it. Everything belongs to Him. Consider these verses as well.
Psalms 24:1-2, The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Psalms 50:10-12, For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
Deuteronomy 10:14, Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
Colossians 1:16-17, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Not only does God own the universe, He owns you and me. As a child of God, I am twice His: by creation and then by redemption.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
When we read these verses, we must conclude mankind cannot claim true ownership of anything. God can.
Understanding God’s Ownership ought to:
Encourage me to forsake a selfish attitude – A selfish focus is diametrically opposed to the God-ownership principle. When the perspective of ownership is wrong, we become enamored with selfish pursuits that often center on fleshly, temporal, or worldly gain. We become fixated on owning more for self. God wants us rather to acknowledge and rejoice in His ownership over all. Doing so leads to a life more in line with His will, is for our greater benefit, and is for the benefit of those around us. Instead of selfish pursuits, we should seek to share, give, help, and establish others.
Philippians 2:14, Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Encourage me to surrender what I have to God’s authority and will. – What does God want me to do with His stuff? All that we possess should be yielded to God. Some struggle with the ideas of tithing/giving, sacrificing, surrendering in service, etc. We can think someone is asking to take our stuff. However, as the Bible teaches us, it’s God’s and He wants us to use His stuff correctly.
1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
Encourage me to seek God for his wisdom and enablement. – Properly stewarding the resources and blessings God has entrusted to us can be a daunting task (raising children, leading others, building a business, etc.). Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves, but offers to help. We simply have to ask.
James 1:5, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Encourage me to want to be as excellent and effective as possible. – When handling God’s resources, we ought to do our best with it. God demands and deserves excellence.
1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.
Ecclesiastes 9:10, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.