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Ownership vs. Stewardship: A Biblical Perspective on Managing Money God’s Way

Steward — \ˈstü-ərd\: One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs.

Stewardship is a term that you might hear from time to time in church circles, but what does it mean? For Christ-followers, good stewardship means taking proper care of the resources God has entrusted to them, understanding that everything comes from God and ultimately belongs to Him. We are simply managers (i.e. stewards) of it all. God has entrusted us with money, belongings, time, and abilities, and He is counting on us to use all our resources in ways that honour Him.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story about a master who gave three of his servants various amounts of gold to invest on his behalf. To one servant, he gave five bags of gold. To another, two bags of gold. To the third servant, he gave one bag. He then announced that he was going away for a time, but would be back to see how they did with the investments.

The first two servants—the ones with five bags and two bags of gold—took the gold, invested it, and doubled it. When the master found out, he praised them and rewarded them with more important responsibilities.

The third servant, on the other hand, was afraid of losing the money he was given, so he took that one bag of gold and buried it. When the master found out, he reprimanded the servant and told him that he should have at least put the money in the bank so it would have gained interest. The master then took back the bag of gold and had the servant thrown out of the house. With the servant gone, the master declared, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29, NLT).

Everything you have is from God. Sure, you work hard to earn your salary, but where did you get your ability to work? Plus, when you decide to accept Jesus and choose to follow Him, He expects a total commitment. You are not called to follow Him only when it is convenient nor to give to Him only when you have some extra time and resources. The commitment He requires is to follow His will at all times and to manage resources as any good steward would for his master. As Rick Warren put it, “Wealth is certainly not a sin, but failing to use it for God’s glory is” (Rick Warren).

Jesus provided additional teaching about money in Luke 16, explaining, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (Luke 16:10-11, NLT). The blessings and opportunities God makes available are directly connected to your stewardship of what God has already given you.

True servants of God are stewards, not owners. They recognize that everything they have is not really theirs; it all belongs to God. They have merely been entrusted with it to be used in any way God requires.