“Think of us this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.”
I was recently asked to prepare a Statement of Faith as part of my training to become an active elder on the session of my church. I’ve read many well-articulated Statements of Faith from candidates who are being examined for ordination as pastors, so I considered this to be both a privilege and a challenge. At the core of my own Statement of Faith is the belief that God is my Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
I also believe that everything we are and everything we have belongs to God. This is the basic principle of biblical stewardship. Stewardship is really just a matter of putting our faith into action. Stewardship is an expression of faith that moves us from a statement of faith to practice. Stewardship puts into practice our faith in God as our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sustainer.
God Our Creator
The Bible teaches that everything belongs to God. Psalm 24 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it; the world, and those who live in it.” Everything in creation has a place in this good world that God has made. And if God is the author of all life, then all people are God’s children, beloved of God and deserving of God’s care. We have a unique role in God’s creation because we are entrusted with caring for everything that God has created. We are responsible to God for protecting, preserving, and enjoying all that God has made. As creations of God, we want to use our time, talents, and resources differently than we would if we did not embrace this understanding.
God Our Redeemer
The Bible also teaches us that God has redeemed us from bondage, delivered us from the devil, freed us from sin and death so that we might belong to God and live in God’s kingdom under God’s providential care. We are reminded that, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20) Belonging to God and living for Christ are ways of describing what it means to be redeemed. Believing in God as Redeemer leads us to see that those who belong to God benefit from God’s guidance and protection. Practically speaking, this means that God has charge over our life. If God were truly in charge of our lives, would we use our time, talents, and treasures differently?
God Our Sustainer
The Bible teaches that God sustains us in our weakness, and strengthens us when we are weary. “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,” (Isaiah 40:31) Faith in God as our Sustainer translates into a single word: trust. “Do not worry about anything…God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 19). People and churches today experience anxiety over lots of things, but finances are often near the top of the list. This, however, does not mean that simply trusting God to provide is a substitute for careful planning, reasonable preparation, or dedicated labor. It does mean that we have a God who loves us and can set us free from the anxieties of life that can make us paralyzed by the need for money.
Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul said, “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret…” What secret? Paul is referring to something that every human being needs to know. It sustained Paul through his life when he was well-fed and when he was hungry; when he was prosperous – and when he was in need. So here it is: “I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11-12). What does it mean for us as congregations to be content when we have little and when we have enough? What we know is that God is in charge and all that we have and all that we are belongs to God.
Being faithful in stewardship means putting our faith into action. A faithful steward is:
- One who views the world as God’s creation and is grateful to be a part of it;
- One who knows God cares for us and is ready and willing to guide our lives;
- One who trusts God to provide us with whatever is needed to be content.
As you conduct your annual Stewardship program this fall, let your pledging and budgeting be an expression of your faith.
Associate for Stewardship
*Excerpts taken from Giving to God: The Bible’s Good News about Living a Generous Life by Mark Allan Powell.