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Balikatan ng mga Kristiano, Inc.  |  P.O. Box 1021, San Leandro, CA 94577 | 617-331-4551 | Email: TulunganTayo@gmail.com

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ARE YOU GOD’S FAITHFUL STEWARD?

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istening to the whole counsel of God in Scripture, it is interesting to note how stewardship has been defined as the human responsibility to carefully use, control and manage all the resources of life and God’s Kingdom work in the church for the glory of God, acknowledging Him as the owner and provider of all these resources for His continuing Kingdom work. It becomes increasingly obvious that how we manage material and spiritual resources such as property, finances, wealth, possessions, how we run our “household”, the work of the Gospel, the church and even parachurch organizations like ours does matter to Him greatly. Because God has entrusted all these resources to Man as His steward, He therefore expects that we as His stewards will wisely manage all these as His beloved trustee. When the Old Testament Asher al bayit is translated “steward” (as in HCSB, KJV, NIV, and NKJV) or “house steward” (NASB) (in Gen. 43:19; 44:1, 4; 1 Kings 16:9), it is clear that the steward has been given the awesome responsibility of wisely managing these resources that he does not own but has been entrusted to him. For example, the Genesis references to “steward” are to Joseph while in 1 Kings, the reference is to Arza as steward of Elah, son of Baasha, who reigned over Israel. Literally, it means “one over a house,” whose main responsibility is to oversee the affairs associated with the functioning of a household . Another  term, haʾish (the man), appears in Gen. 43:19, the literal translation for which is “the man over a house” while Ben mesheq (Gen. 15:2) is translated “steward” (KJV), or “the one who will inherit my estate” (NIV), and “the heir of my house” (HCSB, NASB, NKJV). Nonetheless, all of the material world that we see and the spiritual reality that undergirds this material world belongs solely to God and whatever resources that people have and all that is in God’s creation given to man are held in trust from God. And just as we have been created by God to exercise responsible dominion over His creation, it is likewise incumbent upon us to wisely manage the resources of His creation for Him and for His glory alone.

 

Examples of biblical stakeholders / practitioners in stewardship abound in Scripture. We see individuals acting as stewards, e.g., Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:15), Joseph in Potiphar’s household (Gen 39:4-6) and Daniel as the king’s executive administrator in Babylon (Da 6:1-3). We also see groups acting as stewards, e.g., the priests serving in the tabernacle (Lev 22:9;1 Sam 2:15) and the seven chosen by the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1-6) and the early church itself in the book of Acts. Jesus Christ’s stewardship teachings used parables to emphasize our personal accountability to Him (Lk 16:1-12) in managing God’s resources even as He emphasized each individual’s responsibility (Lk 12:48). It is worthwhile noting that the apostolic teaching on stewardship merely affirms what Jesus originally taught about stewardship (Ro 14:12). As the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30) shows, Christians will be held accountable for the way in which they manage or mismanage God’s blessings and resources as His stewards. Thus, Christians will be both accountable and responsible to God for the extension of the church’s ministry through the preaching of the gospel (Col. 1:24–28), the financial support for the church (Acts 4:32–37), and the ministry to the sick and needy (Matt. 25:31–46).[1] Having been entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel (1Co 4:1-2), we must always remember then that being a good steward of the Lord is an honorable thing from the perspective of God’s Kingdom (1Ti 3:13).

As far as Christians are concerned, stewardship also involves the responsibility of managing God’s work through the church and its ancillary or parachurch organizations. Because God has appointed all who believe in Him to be His stewards on earth, stewardship is therefore normative for (and binding upon) all Christians in whatever ecclesiological or ecclesiastical structure they find themselves in, especially in relation to the body of Christ. To Paul, a crucial component of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is to be a faithful steward of the gospel, even if it exacts a high personal cost (1 Cor. 9:17). 1 Corinthians 4:1 tells us to be “stewards of the mysteries of God” (RSV). If you have ever been on a ship, we all know what a ship’s steward is. Or if you have ever been on an airline flight, we also know too what a steward or a stewardess is. Such steward or stewardess does not own the ship or airplane or even anything that is on the ship or plane. Rather the ship or airline company owns everything, but the ship or plane stewards (including the ship or plane pilot presumably) are entrusted with the care of such property for the benefit of the passengers that it serves. Thus, the steward has been given the awesome responsibility of taking the ship or airline’s resources that belong to its owners and to wisely use these for the benefit of the people and the stakeholders that it serves. That the steward—on an airplane or ship—resembles the Christ-centered steward in the God’s universal realm as well should therefore not come as a surprise at all.[2]



In the Balikatan family, God wants us to use what He has lovingly given and entrusted to us so that we can then use or deploy these to love and serve Him and others faithfully. We must use the abilities, gifts and talents that God has showered us with to bless others and to minister the love of the Lord Jesus. We must also take care of our bodies even as we are often tempted to misuse these, because all that we have also belongs to God. As we are able, we should also give of ourselves to God and His  servants as well as to His work in Balikatan by using the resources that God has so graciously blessed us with so that we can help others in our family who are in need. As we look forward to the Lord’s coming with joy and excitement, may we all willingly offer all that we have and wisely manage all that He has entrusted to us for His glory! Let us resolve then that we cannot serve both God and mammon; but we can truly serve God with mammon, to quote R. E. Speer. For money is a bad master, but it can be a good servant  provided that we have Jesus as the absolute Master of our hearts, our souls and our minds! To those of us who have inherited wealth or have been tremendously blessed by God with His resources, we do know that the Lord has already paid us in advance for the service that we are expected to render to those who have been less blessed materially and spiritually [3]. Nonetheless, may our hearts sing and thrill at the privilege of our helping those in our family who have been materially as well as spiritually marginalized, impoverished and rendered destitute by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” so that the Lord our God can be further praised, magnified and glorified!



[1] Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison, Thomas Nelson Publishers, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995).

[2] Michael P. Green, ed., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).

[3] Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996).

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