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What does it mean to exercise good biblical stewardship?

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A steward manages or administers something belonging to someone else. So the first thing to address is, "What do we own and what does God own?" Genesis 1:1 begins the Bible with the statement, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Since God created everything, He owns it all unless He gave it to someone else. Psalm 50:10–11 says, "For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine." This makes it clear God has retained ownership of everything. So we own nothing and God owns everything. Therefore we are stewards of everything we have. The remaining question is whether we are good stewards or bad stewards.

A good steward administers that which has been placed in his/her stewardship as the owner would. What has been placed in our stewardship? The easiest and most common things to identify are those that are quantifiable: our money, our houses, our cars, etc.—in other words, material goods. Stewardship is often spoken of as how we handle the money God has entrusted us with. And this is definitely part of good stewardship. In fact, Jesus, in His parable of the talents, addresses just that (Matthew 25:14–30). But good stewardship doesn't stop with material goods. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:17, refers to his call to ministry as "… a stewardship." In his first letter to Timothy Paul refers to his stewardship of "the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted" (1 Timothy 1:11). The things we have been entrusted with are not limited to material goods or the talents with which we have been blessed. They extend to the ministries we have been called to, and for all Christians they include spreading the gospel and making disciples of others.

We often, however, don't have the strength or the skills to exercise good stewardship in all these situations. This is where good biblical stewardship requires calling on God for the strength and ability to do what He has entrusted us with. And we can. Paul states in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." He stated, again in his first letter to the Corinthians, that "…I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul saw that in order to be a good steward of what was entrusted to him, he needed "the grace of God" to enable him.

We must recognize that all that we have and all that we do—yes, even our very selves—are not ours, but God's. We then, in obedience to Him, will administer what He has entrusted to us as He wills. Good biblical stewardship acknowledges in all we are and do that we belong to Jesus, who gave Himself for us. Stewardship is our response to His love.

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