“Stewardship is God’s way of raising people, not man’s way of raising money” (Willmer, Smith. 2002.)1
In Romans 12:8 we learn that some excel in the gift of giving, but what about everyone else? We’ve all heard of spiritual disciplines such as prayer, worship, Bible study and fasting, but what about giving?
In Romans 12:1 the Lord calls us to a life of complete commitment to Him by urging each of us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. The idea here is that we are, “all in”, so it’s important that we ask ourselves if there are any areas of our life that are not completely surrendered to, and under, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In other words, have you only given the Lord part of your life as a sacrifice? Are there areas in your life that are currently off limits or that have not been fully surrendered to Him? Oftentimes, this area is how we steward the time, talent and treasure entrusted to us by God. We see an example of this separation in Luke 18:18-23 when a certain ruler asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Unfortunately, while he was a good person, his possessions owned him vs. the other way around and we are left with a sad ending.
This causes us to look deep within our day-to-day habits and routines and ensure that every area of our life is affected by our walk with Christ. After all, our walk with the Lord is comprised of much more than a spiritual high during a Sunday morning worship service or simply listening to the word of God and not doing what it says. We are called to be 24/7/365 Christians and our role as stewards is an essential part of the equation. Or, as Dr. Wesley Wilmer and Martyn Smith (2002) state in, God & Your Stuff, “God is not indifferent to our daily financial choices, but is interested in transforming all of our lives” (p.23).
What Scripture says about Possessions
“Possessions are mentioned 2,172 times in Scripture—three times more than love, seven times more than prayer and eight times more than belief. About 15 percent of God’s Word deals with possessions—treasures hidden in a field, pearls, talents, pounds, stables, and so on. Obviously God understood that believers would find this a difficult area of their lives to turn over to Him” (Willmer and Smith, 2002, p. 9).
There are four key points the Lord brings forth in Scripture regarding our possessions:
- God owns everything and has provided us all that we have (Psalm 50:10-12, Psalm 115:16)
- We are stewards of what God has provided, which involves management not ownership (1 Pet. 4:10)
- Everyone human being was created to give (Gen. 4:4, Lev. 27:30, Prov. 3:9)
- Each one of us will give an account of how we manage the resources God has given us (Rom. 14:12, 2 Cor. 5:10)
So how do we integrate giving into our entire Christian life? Because giving is a spiritual discipline it requires a long-term commitment as well as the day-to-day steps that will help ensure we are fully surrendered to God as stewards. Here are three tips that will help exercise the spiritual discipline of giving:
- Declaring Jesus Christ as Lord and Live out that Declaration – This is the first step on the road of biblical stewardship and living a life of generosity. How we handle our possessions is a reflection of Christ and His Lordship over our lives. If He is Lord, then we realize we are merely stewards of the time, talent and treasure God has entrusted to us. If He is not Lord, then we will continue to see it as our money, our time and our abilities and live accordingly. It’s a choice between two masters and the Lord makes it clear that none of us can serve two masters. You may find it helpful to wake up and pray, “Lord Jesus, today I choose to pick up my cross and follow you. May every aspect of my life be fully surrendered to you today”.
- Understand God’s Word as it Relates to Stewardship- Take time read and study passages such as Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 16:1-9, as well as reading books about biblical stewardship. Click here to access 250 verses about money. You can also sign up for an RSS feed that provides one stewardship verse for every day of the year to help cultivate the spiritual discipline of giving. There’s too much at stake to not understand and grow spiritually in this area of our lives.
- Give to the Lord first no matter what the circumstances – This is another step each of us can take to become more like Christ in the area of stewardship. Rather than paying all the bills and seeing what’s left for God, practice giving God the first fruits of what He has given you. Each one of us should practice consistently giving according to our means and not robbing God when times get tough. Don’t wait to get out of debt before taking the first steps of obedience. Start now, and demonstrate to the Lord that you will no longer let worldly debt compete with your devotion and commitment to Him.
Readers: How do you exercise the spiritual gift of giving? What steps have you taken to exercise this discipline on regular basis?
1 – (Willmer, Smith. God and Your Stuff. NavPress 2002. p.9).
Photo by Mr. Kris