Paoring L. Ragui
Vice-President for Student Services & Public Relations
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies
Silang, Cavite, Philippines
Summary: This sermon addresses three basic questions: (1) What is Christian stewardship? (2) Who and what are involved in Christian stewardship and (3) What will be the reward of a faithful steward?
This sermon addresses three basic questions. It is my prayer that our Lord will speak to us and help us understand the true meaning of Christian stewardship.
1. What is Christian stewardship?
2. Who and what are involved in Christian stewardship?
3. What will be the reward of a faithful steward?
Definition of Christian stewardship
A good definition is vital to a clear understanding of the subject matter. So let us define Christian stewardship.
I will join with Elder Mel Rees, the former GC Stewardship Director, in stating that “stewardship is not a synonym for money…. It is a relationship.”1 A relationship between God, the Creator, and the human, the created being. Elder Rees emphasized that until this is recognized and accepted, a person will never understand the real meaning of Christian stewardship.2
Random House Dictionary defines a steward as “a person who is entrusted to take charge or manage property and finance, or administers anything as the agent of others.”3
The second word, “Christian” is a simple word. It comes from the Greek word Christianos, “a follower of Christ.” It was used first in Antioch of Syria to describe the disciples of Jesus Christ.4
So a Christian steward is a person who is a follower of Jesus Christ, who has been entrusted by God to manage, oversee, take charge or to care for what God has entrusted to him or her.
Who and what are involved in Christian stewardship?
The answer to this question is: God and human kind, based on a mutual relationship between them. Yet, how does this work?
First, one recognizes that God is the Creator of the universe, including human kind. God owns everything, the psalmist declared, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1, 2).
Second, one recognizes that human beings were created by God in His own image (Genesis 1:26; 2:7), and they were entrusted to manage all that God had made (Genesis 1:28).
Scripture tells us that the first human beings were to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and every creeping thing on the earth (Genesis 1:26). Adam was also asked to give them names (Genesis 2:20).
God’s ownership and our role as caretakers includes every aspect of our life on earth. It is both a blessing and a responsibility. Dr. Angel Rodriguez in his summary note puts it well: “We work together with God. We are stewards of our lives. Since we live within time and space, we are also stewards of our time and our environment. We were created in God’s image. This image is what we are and finds expression in every aspect of our being. We are, therefore, stewards of our bodies, of our spiritual life, of our mental and intellectual capacities, and of our social being.”5
Reflecting practically, we can ask, Who is this God? Do I really know Him? The Bible describes Him as the great God, the “Great I Am” (Exodus 3:14) meaning, He was God, He is God, and He will be God, the Yahweh of Israel (Isaiah 43:3, 15). In creating the world, He simply spoke and things came in to being (Genesis 1:1, 3, 20).
We don’t know what powerful language He might have used—Aramaic, English, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Pilipino, or Spanish. The Bible simply affirms that things came into existence.
What a powerful God! The Prophet Isaiah gives Him the titles the Mighty God and Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). God also sustains us (Psalm 3:5). In addition, this God loves us greatly and He sent his only Son to die for our sins. If we believe in Him, He will save and give us eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).
Therefore, we need to affirm God’s goodness to us. He has given us life, health, family, friends, money, time, and salvation. We ask, what should be our response to Him? What more could we ask of Him?
Yet, God asks of us only one thing—“faithfulness.” That is faithfulness to Him in being faithful stewards (Matthew 25:23) that includes returning his tithes and giving offerings (Malachi 3:10), keeping our body healthy by living a healthy lifestyle (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 10:31), managing our God-given talents and time diligently, using and improving them by sharing our love and time to minister to others, and to truly worship Him. With the Holy Spirit working in us, our gratitude to God should be deep, our love for Him supreme, and our loyalty to Him, undivided. How else could it be?
What will be the reward of a faithful steward?
While a steward is a manager, a superintendent, a servant, a caretaker, the designation is used only in response to what God has given him. We become good Christian stewards not because we want to be saved but because Christ first saved us. It is God who first does great things for us, giving us life, wealth, health and everything. We only respond to His goodness. Therefore, whatever a steward does is his natural task to be faithful to God (1 Corinthians 4:2). And if we are faithful, Christ will one day soon say to us, “well done, thou faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:23).
Summary and facets of stewardship
Let us review the many facets of Christian stewardship.
- Christian stewardship is the foundation of faithful Christian living. Therefore, it is vital to understand the basic principles.
- Christian stewardship is based on a relationship between God and human kind in partnership.
- Christian stewardship also involves giving. We return our tithes and give other offerings to support God’s work.
- Christian stewardship calls for keeping our bodies healthy and strong. Also, to diligently use our God-given time and talents to His glory.
- Christian stewardship calls for us to love and worship God and serve our fellowmen.
- Christian stewardship has rewards. First, the future words of commendation from our Master, “faithful servant.” Secondly, there will be a heavenly home, and lastly, eternal life, a life long tenancy.
Claire L. Eva, the former editor of Dynamic Steward magazine in her farewell editorial message, appealed to us, saying, “He (God) is in us, may we serve Him from this moment on, in greater ways than we ever could imagine.”6 Consequently, let us determine to be faithful stewards of the great God that we may enter into His joy and live with Him throughout eternity. What more can we be?
1Rees, Mel. Basic Stewardship Manual (General Conference of SDA, Far Eastern Division, Department of Church Ministries,) Singapore, 1990, p. 3.
2Ibid., p. 3.
3The Random House College Dictionary rev. ed., (New York: Random House, 1975), p. 1289.
4SDA Bible Dictionary, vol. 8 (Washington, DC; Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1979), p. 205.
5Angel Rodriguez, Stewardship Roots, Dynamic Steward, (1994), p. 16.
6Eva, Claire L., ‘Servant or Friend or Brother?’ [Editorial], Dynamic Steward, vol. 10, no. 4 (2006), p.2.