We Are All Stewards of God!
O Lord God, may the truths I learn today as I sit in Your presences and worship in Your house serve to guide me in my life outside these walls each day. Help me to be a faithful steward of everything You entrust to me, so that by my words and actions I might honor Your saving name and bring blessing to all among whom I live and work. It is in Jesus’ name that I pray. Amen.
Our human hearts, although created by God, are often because of sin found in opposition to God. That is why it is so important that we listen to God, follow God, and rejoice in God, for He ultimately directs our steps into blessing.
The children of Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness and ended up wandering there for forty years. Their example should move us to entrust ourselves to God, knowing that He will be with us and enable us to overcome temptation.
Text: Luke 16:1-13
He (Jesus) also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
In Christ Jesus, the Lord of our lives including our financial lives, dear fellow redeemed:
Our topic today is Christian stewardship. The Bible has a tremendous amount to say about it. Its discussion is as broad as the universe itself and as long as any of our lives, for as David reminds us: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it!” (Ps. 24:1) In other words, everything that exists including each of us belongs to God by virtue of His creative acts! We are, therefore, His stewards—individuals entrusted temporarily with our lives and God’s material goods and are responsible to Him for the use of our time, our talents, and our treasures.
Some years ago when I expressed these thoughts in a sermon, one person informed me that her first thought in response was, “That’s not true. My stuff belongs to me!” But upon thinking about it, she came to a wonderful conclusion. If our possessions truly belong to God and are only entrusted to us as His stewards, then He has to worry about protecting them, while we simply have to be concerned about making wise use of them.
I am not sure that we do a very good job of teaching stewardship to our children. We tend to teach our children the difference between their stuff and our stuff. When our oldest daughter was but a tiny child, she loved books. She loved reading books, writing in books, and ripping pages out of books. I, therefore, taught her rather quickly the difference between my books and her books. I even set aside a section of shelf-space in my study for her books, so that she would not play with, write in, or destroy my books. One day as a toddler she came into my office while I was working and went straight to her books, or so I thought. When I realized things were entirely too quiet I turned around and, lo and behold, my daughter had scooted behind a chair and was cautiously fondling my books. When I made a move to pick her up, she sat back and began to slap her little hand. Needless to say, we do a very good job of teaching children during their first two years the difference between yours and mine. Then sadly we spend even more years attempting to teach them how to share. I believe our time would be better spent teaching our children and ourselves that everything belongs to God. Then we can talk about how we ought to care for, share, and use God’s things.
My dear friends, WE ARE ALL STEWARDS OF GOD! THE QUESTION IS: ARE WE FAITHFUL STEWARDS? Our text allows us to explore three different areas and answer three additional questions in order to determine the level of our faithfulness.
First of all, are we wasting what God has entrusted to us? Our text presents one of Jesus’ more challenging parables—the parable of the Unjust Steward. In it Jesus uses a negative example to teach a positive lesson. A rich man had a steward who was accused of “wasting his goods.” He announced to the steward that he wanted a complete account of all of his dealings as steward, because he was going to be replaced. The steward was left in a quandary.
I believe that many of us have difficulty understanding this parable, because we approach it from the vantage point of the rich man rather than his steward. We empathize with the rich man. We would not want anyone wasting our goods and can see why the rich man would be upset. However, in order properly to understand the parable, we must realize that we must identify with the steward being accused of mismanagement—of wasting God’s goods. Let us ask ourselves: Are we wasting what God has entrusted to us?
That question may easily be answered by some of us, especially if we do not have or follow a well-planned budget. If our credit cards are constantly maxed out; if we have a poor credit history; if we are constantly “mall-ing our money away” just to feel good…chances are that we are indeed guilty of wasting the financial resources God has entrusted to us. However, you do not have to be a spend-thrift to waste what God has entrusted to you.
Think of another of Jesus’ parables—the parable of the Rich Fool (cf. Lk. 12:13-21). In that parable the rich man was extremely prosperous. He made and carefully fulfilled ambitious plans—tearing down old barns and building bigger, better ones to store his crops. He did not waste his resources but carefully used them to increase his wealth. However, in the end both his time and his wealth were wasted, for he died the very night he completed his building project. You see, if we are not using the material wealth God has entrusted us for the purposes for which He has given us that wealth, then we are wasting it, even if we am saving it. You see, God outlines in Scripture four reasons why He entrusts each of us with material wealth: 1) To take care of our needs and those of our families (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8); 2) To pay the taxes we owe to the government, so that government can fulfill its God-given duties (cf. Rom. 13:6-7); 3) To advance His kingdom work by supporting the proclamation of the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 16:2); and 4) To help those who are poor and in need among us (cf. 1 Jn. 3:17-18).
My dear friends, WE ARE ALL STEWARDS OF GOD! THE QUESTION IS: ARE WE FAITHFUL STEWARDS? We are not, if we are wasting what God has entrusted to us. We are faithful when we use the financial resources we have been given to accomplish God’s goals in the four areas He outlines in His Word.
Secondly, our text helps us determine whether or not we are faithful stewards by answering a second question: Are we making financial decisions with eternity in mind? This is no doubt the most challenging part of the parable to understand. Having been informed that he was going to be replaced, the steward went out and arranged to gain the favor of his master’s debtors by reducing their debts. In that way after he was dismissed, they would take him in, so that he would not end up as a common laborer or as a beggar. In other words, he used the authority his master had given him in a dishonest way to secure his earthly future. Rather than condemning him, his master commended him for his shrewdness, and then Jesus added this comment: “The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”
Worldly people focus on this life and will do anything and everything necessary to secure their earthly future. Jesus suggests that we do the same with regard to our eternal future! He says: “I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” Jesus is telling us to use the wealth entrusted to us by God with eternity in mind. We are to use that wealth to secure the appreciation of those whom we will join in heaven someday, so that they will be able to receive us with joy into God’s presence!
I had a dear friend and mentor—a departed saint of God, who was entrusted by God with the stewardship of a farm. He was born on that farm, worked it throughout his life, and finally sold it at the time of his retirement. It was his desire to give his farm back to God. He informed his heirs of his intentions, and they heartily agreed with his decision. The proceeds of that farm retired the debt of a parochial school’s gymnasium, which, God-willing, will be used by generations of children. Additional proceeds contributed significantly to help pay for the new classroom building at ILC, which, likewise we pray, will be used to instruct students for decades to come. Finally, portions of the proceeds of that farm went to the CLC’s Mission Development Fund to purchase Bibles and to put roofs on churches in several countries in Africa and Asia, so that God’s Word might be spread and His praises sung. By practicing such godly stewardship my friend and mentor made and blessed friends with the wealth God entrusted to him—friends who one day will greet him and thank him in heaven for the fruits of faith so evident in his life.
My dear friends, let us focus on the blessing we can be, rather than on the blessings we want to receive, for, after all, WE ARE ALL STEWARDS OF GOD! THE QUESTION IS: ARE WE FAITHFUL STEWARDS? We are if we are making financial decisions with eternity in mind!
Finally, our text prompts a third and final probing question: Are we truly serving God, or are we serving money? Jesus concludes his comments in this text by saying: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
It is so easy to become distracted in this world—to fail to seek God’s kingdom first in our lives (cf. Mt. 6:33); to forget all about stewardship in the biblical sense; and to begin to think about wealth and to judge our success in the way unbelievers do—the simple accumulation of money. The wealth that God entrusts to us in this life, which we must remember is but temporal, is a test of our faithfulness. If we cannot be trusted by God to use faithfully those things that ultimately will be destroyed by fire at the end of time (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-13), how can we expect to be entrusted to the “true riches” of God’s eternal kingdom?
Let us ask ourselves honestly: Are we truly serving God or are we serving money? Do we find joy in money because of all of the new things we can buy, subscribing to the bumper sticker philosophy, “the one who dies with the most toys wins,” or do we get excited about the opportunities we might have to use our money to advance the work of God’s kingdom? Do we agonize and lose sleep over the size and quality of our investment portfolio, or do we truly care and give careful thought to the opportunities God may present to us to help the poor? Are our financial goals focused upon enjoying a comfortable—yet temporal retirement here in this world, or are we establishing financial goals to share the gospel leading to the eternal salvation of souls? The latter is Jesus' desire and command. We cannot serve God and money. Let us not attempt to do so!
My dear friends, WE ARE ALL STEWARDS OF GOD! THE QUESTION IS: ARE WE FAITHFUL STEWARDS? I pray that we all are, for then we will glorify God’s name together and His blessings will truly abound among us! Amen.