Setting Our Standards by Stewardship
I would like to begin this post with a little tribute, I guess I’ll call it, to my husband in hopes of honoring and esteeming him, because he is worth far more than the respect and honor that I already try to give him – but here is a more public attempt, to give you a glimpse into a personal testimony.
As I observe Justin’s lifestyle and his interactions with different people throughout the day, I see that he is a man of integrity, a man running after God’s heart and embracing what He finds, a man who is full of knowledge and wisdom and wants to share it with people, and a man who takes his responsibility of stewardship seriously [besides many, many other virtues].
He writes most of the posts for this blog, and when he does he pours much of what he has into it – he will share from personal experience, he shares scripture, he researches until he finds exactly what he is looking for, and a more minor thing but one which I value is that he asks my opinion and for my advice on maybe a certain portion of the post. He realizes that the vision and materials we receive for every post is from God and for God, and we will use what we have to glorify Him. Most of the time, a post you may view as simple and short will take him over an hour, because He makes sure that it only contains Truth, and what we have learned from walking in it. We want to thank all of our readers, because it’s you who motivates us to continue on this journey that God’s placed us on, this ministry, so that as it grows in the future, we’ll be able to reach more people with Kingdom principles. Justin’s been given many talents that will be seen and poured out into this ministry as it grows by God’s leading, and you should expect nothing less of us than that, because it’s our stewardship of what we have already been given that should assist and influence us in setting our standards for living our lives in Godly character.
Think of everything that is “yours” today – your money, your body/health, your relationships, your house, your different talents, the list goes on and on. Now, look at where all of those things came from. Would you say that you have earned them, so they are yours to do with as you please? Or do you consider yourself blessed beyond belief, to have been given a new chance because you have been made new in Christ Jesus, that He provides all things that you have been given in abundance? The Bible says in Psalm 24:1 that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.” This verse states that God made us, and He gave us everything that we have, which also means that He is the one who will give us what we need in the future. So that would mean that we are not owners of all of this wealth and the materials on this earth, but that they are God’s. So why does He give it, why does He bless us? I would like you to dig in and search yourself why God has blessed us abundantly, but let me help you by showing you this one verse, found in Romans 8, verse 17: “And since we are His children, we are His heirs.” We have inherited not only our salvation, but because we have received Him as our Provider and Source of all things good, we will get everything He has promised in His Word.
Let’s compare the mindsets between one who views that they own their wealth and riches, and one who views that they are a steward called to be a good manager of their wealth and riches given to them by God Almighty:
OWNER: My material resources belong exclusively to me. I may use my resources however I wish. I am not accountable to anyone else for how I use my resources.
STEWARD: My resources belong to God, who is the owner of all things. He has temporarily entrusted these resources to me. I should use God’s resources to advance His priorities. I will give an account to God for how I use His resources.
We need to be careful when reading the characteristics of the steward, because our flesh could easily take it out of context and claim it to be unfair, when in reality it’s the complete opposite. Most of us would agree, if we’re seeking Truth and have found it, that all things were given and created by God. That being said, look around and see all what others have – everyone in this world has a talent or gift, most everyone in the world has some sort of income no matter how large or how small, we all have relationships, the majority of us have a house to live in, and we all have bodies. If people have these riches, that must mean that God saw enough in them to entrust them with these things. God is not withholding ownership from us, because we are not the Creators of these things. Instead, He is entrusting us with great responsibility to prove ourselves worthy of being an heir of what He gave us by dying on the cross. The best part is, becoming a better steward is what proves us to be a more responsible and trustworthy person of what God has given us, and He will only bless us with more.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibility. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches in heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” – Luke 16:10-12
Our Bodies and Health – “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) When people believe it is freedom when they decide that their body belongs to them, often times they are enslaved to their own desires. And since they are choosing this freedom, meaning not submitting to the Holy Spirit or what God’s Word says, most of the time what they choose to do will not be in Godly character, since all that is Godly only comes from God, and they are choosing their ways over His. If we look at our bodies as being something that God has given us to take care of and to glorify Him with, He will begin to show us ways to do this. He’ll begin to show you the importance of exercise and living a long life, He will lovingly show you the harmful effects of what the drugs and alcohol are doing to your body, He’ll show how shameful your premarital or extramarital affairs are to the temple He chose for you and then completely restore you to what He originally had planned, He will remind you of the importance to keep up on your personal hygiene, and many other things that He wishes to show us, because He wants the very best for us.
Our Marriages – “For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14) “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” (Hebrews 13:4) If we’re able to, as husbands, love our bride as Christ loves His Church, then God will surely bless us. If, as wives, we are able to submit and respect our husbands, He will surely bless us. He will make your marriage into what it is meant to be; an intimate union where you enjoy the fruits of one another’s labor and hard work, where you will raise up Godly children, and where you will have the opportunity to be profound enough in someone’s life to have the ability to meet their needs, as no other one person can. Being a good steward of your spouse means that you realize that they are your own special gift from God, you must place their needs above your own and put your feelings aside to focus on theirs, encouraging and leading them into the purpose and God-given direction of their life, and being their 24/7 support, always by their side to cheer them on in whatever God is doing in their life. If you are able to do this with your spouse, God will bless you with a joyous, more perfect union here on earth and will direct you in laying down that same foundation for your children. Our spouses are not ours, but God has blessed us with them in this lifetime. Treat them just like that – like a gift, a precious person you have been entrusted with to have and to hold, to never leave nor forsake, to cherish and love.
Our Children – “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:7) We all know that our relationships with others are the most demanding thing on this earth, with our jobs coming in as a second. Pleasing demanding people is a very hard thing to do, and we all feel the pressure of it. If you have children, you know that these relationships are especially ones we struggle with. However, if we keep our cool, discipline and disciple as we should and also remember God’s promises, isn’t it all worth it in the end? Of course it is. As with any other relationship, when we allow God to be in the center of them and to direct our steps, we will do as He directs and leads. And when we prove that we are capable of handling the stress and pressures that come with these relationships, God will entrust us with more. This doesn’t mean that He will give us another spouse and more children, but in a sense of “more”, He will ease your burden as you give it back to Him. Going back to the verse in Psalms that tells that nothing belongs to us, this also largely refers to our children. If we consider that, if we begin to take on that view, all of a sudden there tends to be a sense of relief – God is in control, and He ultimately will guide your children. He does give them free will, and that is why you must lay that foundation so that they will remember what is important once they have grown. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NLT)
Our Other Relationships – “People must understand that Christians are called to be good stewards all the time, not just on Sunday morning. The meaning of stewardship, when it comes to relationships, means that a Christian is not taking another for granted and instead is giving 100% to the relationship. It shows the utilization of everything that the Lord has for each member in that relationship.” (Quoted from http://www.christianet.com/cardonations/meaningofstewardship.htm)
Our Income and Money – This is one of the most common and yet one of the most stressful and confusing areas related to stewardship. WE are the ones who work hard for our money, so WE are the ones who are to decide what to do with it – right? We believe that if you cannot give up at least the first 10% of any income you receive to give to the Church or to help someone else in need, then how will you be able to trust God with your own salvation? If you cannot trust Him to provide for you, then how will you trust that you will be in heaven with Him one day? Money is a sense of security for many people, and without it many would be in very dire situations – that is, if you’re not trusting God and giving the first portion to Him. Justin and I do not have any income coming in right now, and even when we were working, we are WELL below the poverty line in America – in fact, our income for the year last year was in the bottom third of the poverty level, and that was with both of ours combined. Yet, even now, we always give the first portion to Him, and we are already giving over 10%. We hope to increase our giving amount with the more money that we make. We believe that we are good stewards with our money, and the fruits of our obedience to God our seen in our daily lives. With no income coming in, barely any money in our checking account and our savings accounts (we have a savings account labeled for Emergencies, and another strictly for Tithing purposes), we always have enough money to cover what we need to, as well as always a little extra. We are faithful with our money and will continue to be, because it’s a lifestyle that not only glorifies God financially, but it’s blessing others and ourselves as well. Saving is not the only factor relating to money – exactly how you spend it is another. If you struggle paying your bills every month yet you cater to your children and buy them what they want when they want it (when they already are not good stewards themselves with the toys they already have because they have not been taught that), this will negatively affect many things. As a parent, you may not seem the harmful effects of it just yet, but you will as your children grow older. Not only will they take advantage of you in other ways, but they’ll be spoiled in their other relationships as well, and will have unrealistic expectations in their marriages and with their bosses – you may not see this now, but we’ve seen it in other people’s lives, and we believe this to be the case. I could talk about this all day since it’s something that really bothers me, but let’s move on to another point – what about those other services that you really do not need, such as satellite or cable, high speed internet, that brand new car, that $500,000+ house, all of the toys… “mortar”, or materialism, drives Justin and I nuts, because we’re simply not driven by that stuff. However, I am not necessarily saying that cable is bad, or that it’s wrong to have a nice, big home or a brand new vehicle or the latest and greatest toy – because if you’re using it for God’s glory, by all means, buy it. BUT, make sure that’s your true intent. God will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), so rely on Him and He will give it to you in His timing. “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you, I will never abandon you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
Our Living Quarters – Within just our house alone, there are many aspects and areas where we must consider ourselves stewards. Take our cleanliness, for example. If it is our desire to live in a bigger house someday, and we cannot keep our current smaller house clean, would this be wise action, to buy a bigger house and be stressed out more-so because of the uncleanliness? If we only use some of the rooms in our houses already as storage units, would it be wise to get a bigger house where we would just feel the need to buy more materials to fill up that empty space? We must change our habits now into those of God’s image if we are to obtain ‘bigger and better’ things. I’ve heard the expression many times before that the condition of our homes – both the condition of the building and the members living in it – often times reflects the condition of our hearts. You may agree with this statement or not, but I believe that there is some truth in it.
Our Gifts and Talents – You get my point by now – He created you, He gave you those gifts, so simply use them for His glory. We are selfish beings and by nature we live in the flesh, so it will be difficult. But ask God to help you, and He will! You’ll find your gifts growing and you’ll discover that you’ve had more gifts than you originally thought.
Our commitment to God can be seen in how we manage our lives. If we are good stewards, we will be healthy people, fulfilled only in Christ. With our rise in increase comes an increase in responsibility and trust, which must also include an increase in our standards of living. “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:48) It must change the way that we see our lives, and all that God has given us. Our drive for material things is God-given, only misguided. It’s not material possessions that we must drive for, but things that are considered heavenly riches and wealth, or those deposits that we make into our world that count most when we’re face to face with our Creator. Start considering all that you have to be God’s, and you will find that it starts to bring a sense of relief, because no matter if you fail, you have given that possession over to God, so you have chosen to give Him all control. This does not mean that our responsibility is less, but even greater. We must prove that we are capable of taking care of the things that are God’s, then He will reward us richly in heaven. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.” Matthew 25:34-36
The BOTTOM LINE: The more you exercise faith in these areas and the more that you develop your character into a Godly steward of all that God has given you, you will begin to see more increase in your life, because you have proven yourself to be responsible and trustworthy in God’s eyes.