Douglas John Hall, a theologian and author, says that stewardship is a biblical metaphor that has come of age. In the past two centuries, this idea has become largely jaded because of its abuse and misuse. The era of Protestant missions in the 19th century utilized stewardship to raise money for mission work. If you review literatures about stewardship in the past century, you will find that it talks about finances, church budgets and related money matters. But according to Hall, the concept reached maturity and can now be taught in its entirety.
A fuller vision and biblical concept of stewardship covers more than just money and giving. A comprehensive teaching about stewardship will cover stewardship all of life. It will include personal stewardship (personal sanctification or piety); social responsibility; public engagement; and care of creation.
Teaching Stewardship in All Its Aspects
The personal relationship of the steward to their creator is the basis for all other relationships. As a steward, you do not own anything but the rightful owner is God. It means doing His bidding and not pursuing one’s personal agenda. It is important for the steward to know the Master and obey His will. Most of the troubles of this world will disappear if only people do not act as owners.
An important relationship of the steward is towards another human being. To teach stewardship is to teach about loving people, caring for the poor and the powerless. Jesus, the model steward, showed love and compassion for people in the midst of His mission of saving those whom the Father has given Him. We ought to teach His example in social responsibility.
Christian stewards serve as salt and light in the world. We do not teach Christians to live in monasteries but to go out and influence this decaying world. We teach truth—telling and proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. Public engagement does not necessarily mean that you run for political office. As a Christian, you can involve yourselves in the public arena by asserting truth, justice, righteousness and advocating for peace.
Care for Creation
An often neglected teaching about stewardship is caring for creation. God loves His creation and as His representatives and stewards, we ought to teach people, especially the next generation, on how to care for creation. We should teach the church stewardship of the environment particularly in this era of extreme climates. Let us not lag behind the efforts of environmentaly conscious people since we are followers of the Word and we know what the Bible teaches about caring for God’s beautiful creation.
Teaching stewardship must cover all the four basic areas of personal piety, social responsibility, public engagement, and care for creation. We have to teach that a Christian steward is one who serves people, empowers them, and brings them closer to God—all within the context of life on earth. In the process, the steward grows in his personal faith and walk as well. As such, the steward in the power of God’s grace seeks to bring shalom and God’s goodness into this needy and broken world.
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