This post is by Heather Nunn (MA in Missiology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). Heather serves as Associate Publisher, Women’s Books for B&H Publishing, the Trade Publishing imprint of LifeWay Christian Resources.
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Stewardship and Spiritual Formation
For the past month, I’ve been looking to purchase a car. My car is older with a lot of miles on it, and the air conditioner isn’t working. I was happy to sell my car at a very low price or even give it away to someone if I had learned of a need. After waiting a week to hear back from family and friends, I began researching the value of my car in order to determine a sale price. A friend suggested I sell it online and encouraged me to be clear in the description about problems with the car.
The post went live. Within a matter of minutes, I had four responses. Unexpectedly, one of those responses was a family member who asked for more details on the price of the vehicle and the quote to get it fixed. Bottom line, I sold it to my family member, didn’t get the price I was asking, and wasn’t happy about it. At some point during this process, my desire changed from “give it away” to “give me as much as possible.” Originally, I wanted this car to go to someone who needed a car, but then I became frustrated about not getting the most money possible. So I began asking myself, “Why?”
While it wasn’t wrong for me to want to sell my car, the complete 180-degree shift in my attitude exposed something deeper going on in my heart. When the value of the car increased to me, I held more tightly to it. In my heart, I transitioned from steward to owner.
Stewardship is defined as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” The Bible more clearly defines stewardship for us:
God is the owner and has demonstrated generosity. We are the stewards.
The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Generosity is the result of joy—a joy that points to the gospel.
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service. (2 Corinthians 9:13)
Stewardship and generosity complement one another. Being a good steward doesn’t mean I have to give everything away, but it does require an understanding that I’m not the owner. I’m called both to manage and be generous. It’s a beautiful partnership.
“When money is sent to me for my own use, I pass it on to God,” George Müller once said. “I do not regard such gifts as belonging to me; they belong to Him, Whose I am and Whom I serve.” Understanding that God owns everything and has been incredibly gracious to us pushes us to give to others from a heart of gratefulness rather than one of duty.