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CHRISTIAN LIFE - STEWARDSHIP 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

STEWARDSHIP
1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

A STEWARD MANAGES SOMEONE ELSE’S AFFAIRS OR PROPERTY. IN THE CHRISTIAN SENSE, A STEWARD IS THE MANAGER OF GOD’S AFFAIRS AND PROPERTY.

Stewardship is the second-most subject discussed in the Bible--(love is first). God gave more than 2,350 instructions in Scripture on being good stewards of what He has placed in our care. In fact, two-thirds of the parables that Jesus taught are about money, possessions, and stewardship. Scripture gives very clear directions regarding earning, spending, saving, investing, giving, getting out of debt, and teaching children how to handle money--every aspect of handling money.

Most Christians are unaware of these biblical principles and believe that the Lord plays no part in their finances. Scripture reveals that He plays the central role as owner of all things. The first step in fulfilling the Great Commission is to evangelize all nations. However, the second part, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” has been largely ignored with respect to God's financial principles.

LIFE ITSELF IS A STEWARDSHIP. HUMAN LIFE IS THE FIRST AND GREATEST GIFT. OUR LIVES ARE TRUSTS. WE ARE THE STEWARDS OF our LIVES, AND GOD DEPENDS ON US TO USE THEM TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES.

WE MUST ALSO BE GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR TIME. GOD GIVES US LIFE, and WITH IT HE GIVES US TIME. Because WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH TIME WE HAVE, WE SHOULD USE TIME WISELY IN EVERY ACTIVITY TO FULFILL GOD'S PLAN.

OUR STEWARDSHIP OF HEALTH IN MIND AND BODY IS ESSENTIAL. WE PRESENT OUR BODIES, AND WE RENEW OUR MINDS AS OFFERINGS TO GOD. HUMAN BEINGS HAVE SUPERIOR MINDS TO BE USED TO THE FULLEST CAPACITY. WE WERE GIVEN BODIES IN WHICH TO ACCOMPLISH GOD'S WORK. AS CHRISTIANS, OUR BODIES ARE TEMPLES FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT TO LIVE WITHIN US. THEREFORE, WE MUST TREAT OUR BODIES WITH RESPECT AND NOT ABUSE THEM.

GOD GIVES CHRISTIANS GIFTS AND TALENTS. EACH BELIEVER RECEIVES AT LEAST ONE SPIRITUAL GIFT ACCORDING TO 1 Corinthians 12:1-6. THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT IF WE USE OUR TALENTS WISELY, WE WILL BE BETTER ABLE TO USE THEM AND WILL DEVELOP OTHERS.

GOD EXPECTS US TO BE GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
•    WE SHOULD PROVIDE CHRISTIAN EDUCATION AT HOME SO WE MAY LIVE AND GROW TOGETHER AS A FAMILY.
•    AT WORK, WE CAN SHOW OUR CO-WORKERS THE EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR AND SUPPORTIVE CARING.
•    IN CHURCH, WE PARTICIPATE WITH OTHERS IN WORSHIP, ACTIVITIES, AND IN THE FORMING OF FRIENDSHIPS.

WE CHRISTIANS ARE STEWARDS OF THE GOSPEL IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD.
•    WHEN WE SHARE THE GOSPEL, WE BRING GOD'S MESSAGE INTO THE WORLD.
•    WE WITNESS BY EXAMPLE BY SHOWING OTHERS IN OUR DAILY LIVING HOW WE ACCEPT OUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS CHRISTIANS.

THE TYPE OF STEWARDSHIP MOST DISCUSSED IS PROPERTY.
•    WE BRING NOTHING INTO THIS WORLD, AND WE TAKE NOTHING OUT OF IT.
•    EVERYTHING WE HAVE WHILE WE ARE HERE IS A GIFT FROM GOD.
•    IN APPRECIATION, WE CHOOSE TO RETURN A PORTION TO GOD.
•    WE GIVE REGULARLY AND SYSTEMATICALLY.
•    BECAUSE WE LOVE GOD, WE DEDICATE THESE GIFTS TO HIS SERVICE.
•    Matthew 10:8 SAYS, “FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED; FREELY GIVE.”

Jesus gave
•    bread to the hungry
•    sight to the blind
•    love to children
•    encouragement to the downtrodden
•    truth to those who would listen
•    His life for our redemption.
As believers, we MUST conform to Christ’s likeness as a giver. Giving should be our lifestyle.

PAUL TELLS US ABOUT GOD'S PLAN FOR GIVING.
•    IT INCLUDES GIVING FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE TO SUPPLY THE NEED OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. HE REFERS TO PROVIDING FOR PEOPLE IN DIRE NEED WHO HAD LOST THEIR JOBS DUE TO PERSECUTION IN JERUSALEM AND BECAUSE OF FAMINE.
•    OTHER PURPOSES FOR GIVING ARE TO PROMOTE EVANGELISM, MISSIONS, DISCIPLESHIP, CHURCH OPERATING EXPENSES, AND TO ADEQUATELY MEET THE NEEDS OF THE PASTOR. IN Philippians 4:10, PAUL REJOICED THAT THE PHILIPPIAN CHRISTIANS PROVIDED FOR HIS NEEDS.
•    IN 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, PAUL GAVE INSTRUCTIONS ON WHEN TO GIVE, THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK WHEN CHRISTIANS MEET.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I GIVE? THE BIBLE SAYS WE SHOULD SET ASIDE OUR "FIRST FRUITS." OUR OFFERING TO GOD SHOULD BE THE FIRST PORTION OF OUR GIVING. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, ONE TENTH OF PERSONAL INCOME OR TITHE WAS REQUIRED AS A STARTING POINT FOR RETURNING INCOME TO GOD’S WORK.

Although tithing is crucial, believers need to understand the Lord's perspective for handling the other 90 percent. For those Christians who do tithe, most feel that once they have given their tithe and occasionally special offerings, the remaining 90 percent of their income is theirs to do with as they please. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Because all our property belongs to God, as stewards or managers we are obliged to manage in a way pleasing to Him and in a way He would want it managed.

UNDER NEW TESTAMENT GRACE, WE STILL ARE REQUIRED TO COMMIT ALL OUR RESOURCES INTO GOD’S KEEPING AND TO BE STEWARDS OF THESE RESOURCES. WE SHOULD RETURN TEN PERCENT TO THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

James 1:17 says, Every good and perfect gift is from above. God wants us to give because it shows we recognize that He is the giver. He also knows how blessed we will be as we give generously to Him and to others in His name. Giving is a Kingdom principle that brings more blessing to the giver than to the recipient. When we give freely to God, we receive freely from God. BUT GOOD MONEY MANAGEMENT AND GENERAL GOOD STEWARDSHIP REQUIRE GETTING OUR FINANCES STRAIGHT FIRST.

Although I can‘t go into great detail now, I need to warn of major concern to most people: buying on credit, cosigning, and the financial pitfalls associated with borrowing. The Bible doesn’t specifically mention bankruptcy, but it does tell us that we should pay back what we owe. (Psalm 37:21and Ecclesiastes 5:5)
 
GOD INTENDED FOR GIVING TO BE PART OF OUR WORSHIP.
•    WE ARE TO GIVE SYSTEMATICALLY, NOT HAPHAZARDLY.
•    THIS REMINDS US SYSTEMATICALLY OF OUR DEPENDENCE ON HIM.
•    HE INTENDED FOR US TO RECOGNIZE SYSTEMATICALLY THAT HE IS THE SOURCE OF EVERYTHING WE HAVE ALL WEEK, NOT JUST ON SUNDAY.
•    WE ARE TO GIVE ON THE FIRST DAY OF EVERY WEEK. IF WE MISS A SUNDAY OF GIVING, WE NEED TO MAKE IT UP.
•    EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY SHOULD GIVE. CHILDREN SHOULD BE TAUGHT THAT THEY MUST GIVE TO GOD JUST LIKE ADULTS.
•    Malachi 3:10, Mark 12:41, and 1 Corinthians 16:2 TELL US TO GIVE TO THE PLACE WHERE CHRISTIANS MEET OR THE "STOREHOUSE," THE (LOCAL) CHURCH.

THERE IS NO EMPHASIS ON TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT BECAUSE CHRISTIANS MAY HAVE BEEN GIVING FAR MORE THAN THE TEN PERCENT AS GOD HAD PROSPERED THEM. GOD IS THE GREATEST MONEY  MANAGER. HIS PLAN ALWAYS WORKS AND WILL PRODUCE MORE THAN WE COULD EVER HOPE for. 2  Corinthians 9:6-8 gives GOD'S RESPONSE TO WHAT WE GIVE. REMEMBER, WE ARE NOT ONLY SPEAKING OF MONEY, BUT ALSO OUR TIME, GIFTS, AND TALENTS.

1 Corinthians 16:1-3 AND 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 SHOULD BE OUR PATTERN FOR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. GOD WANTS US TO BE SUCCESSFUL, BUT WE MUST TRY OUR BEST IN WHAT WE DO. WE MUST HAVE THE RIGHT GOALS WITH OUR EARNINGS, AS POOR FINANCIAL ACTIONS HINDER OUR MOVES INTO GREATER RESPONSIBILITIES FOR HIM.

WHEN CHRISTIANS DWELL ON WORLDLY POSSESSIONS, IT SETS A BAD EXAMPLE FOR CHRISTIANITY AND CAN MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO WITNESS TO NONBELIEVERS.
•    WE SHOULD WORK HARD TO IMPROVE OUR FINANCIAL STATUS BUT SHOULD BE CONTENT WITH WE HAVE.
•    WE SHOULD NOT BE CONTENT WITH POVERTY BUT WE SHOULDN’T LET EARNING A LIVING INTERFERE WITH OUR CHRISTIAN ETHICS.
•    GOOD MONEY MANAGEMENT FREES OUR MINDS FOR GREATER CHRISTIAN WITNESSING AND SERVICE.
•    POOR MANAGEMENT CAN INTERFERE WITH OUR PRAYER AND WORSHIP  BECAUSE OUR MINDS ARE CLOUDED WITH FINANCIAL WORRIES.
•    IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE ENOUGH INCOME TO PAY BILLS, ETC.

The Bible never condemns the possession of goods and money, but it does speak against hoarding, coveting, selfishness, stealing, dishonesty, and mismanagement of finances. For a millennium, Satan has used financial pressures to enslave God's people in debt and worry and to turn them away from God and from His principles of money management.

IT IS NOT WRONG TO BE FINANCIALLY WELL OFF. MANY OLD TESTAMENT WEALTHY PEOPLE WERE BLESSED BY GOD, SUCH AS SOLOMON AND JOB. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA AND NICODEMUS ARE GOOD EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE WHO WERE BLESSED. MATERIAL RICHES OR POVERTY ARE NOT SIGNS OF GOD'S APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL. MANY NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE WERE DESTITUTE, INCLUDING JESUS, BUT WERE BLESSED BY GOD.

HOW WE USE WHAT WE HAVE DETERMINES HOW GOD LOOKS AT OUR PERSONAL WEALTH. WE MUST FIND PEACE WITH GOD AND PUT HIM FIRST FOR SUCCESS.

WHAT ARE THE REWARDS FOR GOOD STEWARDSHIP?
•    WE SEEK NO REWARDS FOR OUR STEWARDSHIP BUT DO IT WITH THE JOY OF SERVING GOD.
•    WE KNOW THAT GOD DOES REWARD GOOD STEWARDS BY FILLING THEIR NEEDS IN LIFE, NOT WANTS.
•    HE GIVES US NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO CARE AND TO SHARE, TO PARTICIPATE IN THE WHOLENESS OF LIFE, AND TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL.
•    STEWARDSHIP IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN, MAKING OUR PRAYERS, WORSHIP, STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND OUR CHRISTIAN ACTIONS SINCERE.

JUST REMEMBER,
•    EVERYTHING WE HAVE CAME FROM GOD AND ACTUALLY BELONGS TO HIM BECAUSE, AS CHRISTIANS, WE BELONG TO HIM.
•    EACH PERSON IS A STEWARD.  GOD HAS GIVEN US ABILITIES AND TALENTS THAT ARE UNIQUE FOR EACH OF US TO USE IN HIS WORK.
•    A CHRISTIAN STEWARD SERVES GOD OUT OF LOVE AND GRATITUDE FOR THESE GIFTS KNOWING THAT IT'S NOT HOW MUCH WE HAVE BUT WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT WE HAVE THAT IS IMPORTANT.

OUR WHOLE LIFE IS A PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD. WE CANNOT GIVE ANYTHING TO GOD BECAUSE EVERYTHING WE HAVE IS HIS ALREADY. WE CAN FULFILL OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO GOD BY USING HIS PROPERTY WISELY AND SHARING WITH OTHERS.

EACH OF US CAN LIVE AS GOD’S STEWARD. WE MUST TRUST IN GOD TOTALLY WITH OUR ACCEPTANCE OF JESUS CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOR, AND BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT WE HAVE. IN THIS WAY, WE CAN MOVE TO GREATER THINGS.

In summary, these are Biblical financial principles:
God is the source (Psalm 24:1).
Give first (Luke 6:38).
Save money (Proverbs 21:20).
Keep out of debt (Romans 13:8).
Be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).
Don't cosign (Proverbs 27:13).
Seek godly counsel (Psalm 1:1).

As believers learn to follow these principles in their personal finances, they will know the joy that comes from trusting and obeying God.

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

    Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   May 17, 2015