January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

The Stewardship Mindset
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The Stewardship Mindset

Dr. Alexi George

Take a look at people who are famous. They are powerful, successful, wealthy, and completely in control of their lives. They're definitely more privileged than we are. We surely didn’t get the opportunities they had. 

THE SUCCESS GAP

We may look at popular images of success in business, ministry, politics, and community life and consider those people as lucky. We see a large gap between us and them. It seems impossible for us to ever reach those heights that they have climbed. We’re sure that there is some element in them that is surely missing in our situation. 

Such a gap is a reality. This gap often causes people to feel a sense of loss, thinking of how our lives could have been different if we had some of the privileges that others have. Sometimes, even though we don’t like to admit it, we feel a certain level of jealousy as well. Others may even respond with a judgemental attitude as if the wealthy must certainly have done something wrong to reach the place where they are now. 

OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY

According to the scriptures, God has given all of us an opportunity and the responsibility to use what has been given to us in a creative and productive way. This responsibility is called stewardship. This is the task of carefully and responsibly managing something that has been entrusted to us. The definition is quite simple and we should easily be able to accomplish it. But for some reason, this whole concept eludes us as we look at those who do great things in life and wonder why so much more has been given to them and so little has been entrusted to us. 

GOD’S DESIGN 

As the creator of all things, God is the one who has entrusted all things to us as his children to carefully and responsibly manage. This concept of stewardship began in the Garden of Eden where God placed our first parents and gave them the responsibility to care for the garden and everything in it. This responsibility included not only the land but all the people in the land as well. God’s people are to be the ultimate caretakers. 

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:29 ESV).

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (Gen 2:15 ESV). 

In the passages above, Adam and Eve were to be fruitful. And how are they to be fruitful? By multiplying and filling the earth. But having children and “filling” the earth with people would be insufficient to sustain life on earth. God’s expectation was much broader than simply populating the earth. 

It is essential for people to "subdue" the earth and have dominion over everything on it. This concept is often misunderstood. Some understand this to mean that you simply “take advantage” of the earth’s resources in a selfish manner without any responsibility. But the intended meaning is to sufficiently use the resources of this earth for the sustenance of the people who would “fill” the land. 

WISE USE OF RESOURCES

It was and still is the task of people to wisely use the resources available on the earth to sustain all the people on this earth. But that requires everyone to do their part in making good use of what has been entrusted to them. I have heard the statement that every mouth comes with two hands (except for the exceptions). Thus with two hands comes an enormous responsibility to care for ourselves and to contribute to the rest of society. 

CARING FOR OTHERS

The task of caring for the whole earth and all that dwells on it is certainly too overwhelming. Such a concept is too broad for us to even imagine. But as we narrow our focus to our own lives, things become clear. We are part of a society of people who are all interconnected. As we take care of ourselves and help others, everyone benefits. Such a society becomes built up in numerous ways and will progress much more than others. 

In fact, this is how business works. Every business becomes successful as they aim to help people with some need in their lives. In return, they are paid for the task they perform. In every realm of society, this is how it works. Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Plumbers, Electricians, Teachers, Pastors, and just about every type of work is focused on helping people. In return, they are given an amount of money as payment or profit. 

TIMES OF DISTRESS 

As the church was going through some very trying times, Peter encouraged the people to be generous and use the resources they have to serve others. 

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1 Peter 4:9,10) 

In times of major calamities, our natural tendency is to focus inward and to retreat from everyone else. We may even try to “preserve” our resources for ourselves rather than sharing them with others. Such attempts are really not preservation, rather it becomes “hoarding” of our resources. 

We might think that holding on to what we have improves our condition and our future. Such types of protectionism are in fact more dangerous than helpful. What we think is for our own good eventually works out for a bad future. Focusing on yourself may sound like you are helping yourself, but in fact, you are hurting yourself. 

But if we follow the principle that Peter is urging the people to follow, we will be better off. This principle is applicable to spiritual gifts, social connections, and also our finances. Trying to protect what we have without connecting with others will only reduce our future financial prospects. 

OUR BENEFIT

When we put these concepts together, we all benefit. God has set in place a world of connected people. The more we connect with people and help people, the more we benefit. Success doesn’t come to those who are fervently trying to gain more in life. Such people may gain some profit through much hard work and toil. But the truly successful ones are the people who have mastered the art of helping others while working hard. 

When Peter instructs people to be hospitable and generous toward others, it was during a time of severe persecution against Christians. During the time there is an urge for hoarding, Peter instructs them to be generous and helpful to others. Generosity and connectedness are key to prosperity rather than hoarding. 

The true value in stewardship is to use the resources God has given us for the benefit of others. When we help others and create a society where most people are focused on doing things that benefit others, everyone profits. God desires that all his children be involved in helping each other to be successful in what they do. •

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