The Money Quandary By Mary Beth Leavell
Stewardship and Issues of Money
Stewardship is typically equated with money. Even in the church world, stewardship is discussed in terms of giving. After all, churches have business operations with budgets, income, expenses, payroll, and financial audits. In addition, the Bible has hundreds of verses that refer directly to money and how God’s people should handle it. But is stewardship just about money??
Money Creates a Dilemma
Money plays a central role in this earthly world, but it is not an eternal commodity. Knowing this creates a dilemma for the Christian steward. When the focus is on how much I have (or think I need to have) to be secure or to increase my social standing, it keeps the focus on ME and what I want, rather than on God. The mindset of the world is, “he who has the most stuff, wins!”
This is in direct opposition to what God tells us.
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 money.
~ Luke. 16:13
Even as a Christian, when my focus is on money and myself, I am looking in the direction that Jesus said would never bring me joy.
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to get eternal life (Matt. 19:16-22). Jesus’ response was to sell everything, give it all away, and follow Him. The young man went away sad because he chose his wealth and worldly lifestyle over the eternal life that Jesus offered. A life divided in this way can never bring fulfillment. In reality, “He who has the most stuff, just has the most stuff.”
The gospel also teaches us to place eternity in the perspective of stewardship. We are “in the world, but not of it” ~ John 17:14-15. We are physically on this earth, yet when we become believers, our citizenship changes to heaven. In essence, we become “ex-patriots” living in this present world!
When my husband and I were missionaries overseas, we were ex-patriots…we were living in another country, but our home was elsewhere. While living in a foreign land, we had to follow those laws and social customs, but our hearts and allegiance were to our homeland. Even our money and our expectation of the cost of things was affected. How much was a dollar worth in a different currency? We were constantly converting currency values in our heads to determine the value of something. We dramatically increased our giving because we saw the deep needs of poverty. Over time, we learned to function “normally” in a different country, but we were forever changed through our experiences of living as an “ex-pat”.
In the same way, when a new believer first comes to Christ and catches a glimpse of eternity, His Kingdom is viewed as a foreign land. However, over time, we learn how to live and think as heavenly citizens. Earth, while still familiar, becomes more foreign. Paul declared that “Our citizenship is in heaven” ~ Phil. 3:20. Therefore, we cannot appreciate the true meaning and value of Christian stewardship unless we see it in the perspective of eternity. God wants us to be His stewards, living as His ex-patriots on earth to fulfill His eternal purposes.
As stated earlier, when we come to Him in repentance and surrender, He entrusts us with His resources. The more complete that our consecration is, the better we are able to function as faithful stewards. But even greater than the stewarding of financial resources, God wants us to steward His gospel. To define the administration of God’s redemptive plan for the world, Paul referred to himself as a steward of the grace of God and of the mysteries of God (I Cor. 4:1). This possession is an eternal one – one which has infinitely more value than money!!
The stewarding of money and other resources serves merely as a practice ground for this greater responsibility. While we faithfully steward earthly resources, we are being prepared to steward eternal resources. What an incredible opportunity given to us by God to serve as a unique outlet through which His transforming power of the kingdom can flow!!!
Christian stewards understand that God is the owner of everything, including “the earth, everything in it, and all who live in it” ~ Ps. 24:1. Therefore, whatever money or assets we have, belong to God. God expects us to use all the resources He has placed in our hands to further His Kingdom as He directs.
My daily question to Him should be, “How do you want me to use your money and your possessions?” If I am God’s steward, I am not the owner. Nor is money my god. HE is God and the owner of all. I am not. The dilemma regarding money no longer exists in this paradigm because all things are now in their rightful place. Whatever money or “stuff” we have is, and was, always His…we just didn’t realize it!
Marybeth Leavell is the Adjunct Faculty Member at Columbia International University based in Columbia, South Carolina. She is an experienced educational Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.
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