By Chris McDaniel
Becoming a faithful steward does not happen overnight—it’s a journey. It’s a journey that every Christian is on (whether we admit it or not) and each one of us are at different points of that journey. Since our example is Christ, who gave all, it means that none of us have “arrived”, nor can we say that we are completely done growing. Each day we must ask God to untangle us from the web of “stuff” that makes earth seem like home instead of the place Jesus prepared for us in His Kingdom.
But what does that journey look like? Where do we start? Since there are over 2,000 passages in the Bible that teach about stewardship one can get overwhelmed. However, there are foundational starting points in Scripture and progressive steps of maturity that can help us along this journey.
Here are four stages to consider for your personal journey of stewardship:
Come and See – Exploring Stewardship
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
Every journey has a beginning. We have an open invitation from God but each one of us must choose in our own free will to seek and explore His truth. Before we had a personal relationship with Christ, we had to explore His claims, truths, and purpose. This choice to explore is a part of what ignites a personal relationship with Christ.
In regards to stewardship, your start may be admitting that you don’t even want to explore. If that’s where you are, I can relate, but don’t stay there. Admit to God, your Father, that this is where you are and ask Him to give you His desire. He is faithful and will not disappoint.
Below are five questions and verses that guide us into exploring our role as stewards:
- Whose money is it anyway? (Psalm 50:10-12)
- Why does God care about giving? (Matthew 6:24)
- Can God be trusted? (2 Cor. 9:8)
- Can I be trusted? (Luke 16:10)
- What is the Law of the Harvest? (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
Praise God that we have plenty of access to His Word and the freedom to read and study it! God is inviting us to explore His Word to learn His will for our lives as stewards of His resources.
Follow Me – Embracing Stewardship
“At once they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:20
Once we learn God’s truth we must embrace it and put it into practice. There is a difference between a believer and a follower of Jesus. The journey of stewardship is a journey of discipleship and that difference requires making hard choices that honor God and obey His Word.
Here are five more Scriptures that surface critical choices God has presented us in His Word:
- I choose to recognize God’s blessings. (Psalm 40:5)
- I choose to follow Christ’s example. (2 Cor. 8:9)
- I choose to excel as a giver. (2 Cor. 8:7)
- I choose to store treasure in Heaven. (Matt. 6:19-21)
- I choose to be content. (Phil. 4:11-12)
Deny Yourself – Engaging Stewardship
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves…” Matthew 16:24
The word “deny” can be so frightening, yet it is the very key to our freedom. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus invites us to engage and live in a Kingdom economy instead of the economy of this world. In this world, “he who has the most toys wins”, yet God’s viewpoint is dramatically different. The original Greek word here is aparneoma, which means “to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests” 1. This presents a tremendous crossroads in our journey of stewardship. Jesus makes it clear though that “his disciples must deny themselves”.
Here are five commitments you can make to deny yourself as God’s steward:
- I commit to give to God first. (Prov. 3:9-10)
- I commit to make a budget plan. (Prov. 21:5)
- I commit to provide for my family. (1 Tim. 5:8)
- I commit to give prayerfully. (Phil 4:6)
- I commit to share with those in need. (1 Tim. 6:18-19)
Take up Your Cross – Equipping Stewardship
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
What does it mean to “take up your cross”? Many viewpoints have been offered but it’s important to understand the history and context of this verse when it was written. In Jesus’ day the cross meant one thing…death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you must die to be a faithful steward as physical death is used metaphorically not as the application. But, what I am saying is that Jesus calls us to die to ourselves spiritually for Him. Those who die spiritually to Jesus will find life but those who take their eternal life into their own hands will find death (separation from God).
Jesus asserts that death is imminent—we don’t choose to submit to physical death or not—we are all going to die. The question is how are we dying? Are we gaining possessions and ignoring God while alive on this earth or are we embracing “spiritual death” so that we might follow Jesus into eternal, spiritual life?
The final growth stage in stewardship is when we mature and are willing to give all for Jesus. When we do, it affects every aspect of our life, especially stewardship.
As you seek to “take up your cross” here are five more Scriptures to guide you in your journey:
- I seek intimacy with God in giving. (Matt. 6:1-4)
- I seek to be trusted with true riches. (Matt. 25:21)
- I seek ways to give sacrificially. (Luke 21:1-4)
- I seek to encourage and equip others to be generous. (1 Tim. 6:18)
- I seek to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
A Practical Take Away
You can obtain additional copies of The Stewardship Bookmark at www.stewardshipbookmark.org, which can serve as a helpful reminder of this growth process and highlights these key Scriptures.
How about you? Where are you at in your journey?
1 – Denying Self = BLB Lexicon