Now that we’ve briefly discussed the will of God, we can more effectively apply it to specific areas of our lives. In this article we will look at how we are to live according to God’s will in regards to stewardship.
Exactly what is stewardship? Stewardship is knowing that all that you are, and all that you have belongs to the Lord. Stewardship is using the means God has entrusted to you to his glory and the good of his kingdom. (Ephesians 2:10) Just as you confess with joy the truths of Lord’s Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism, so also you must apply this beautiful truth to your daily life with all that you are, and all that God has given you.
If we are to understand our stewardship, we must believe that God must first be served. (I Cor. 10:31) This is the extreme opposite of what you hear and read and see in the evil world in which you live. The devil wants nothing more than for you to believe the lie, that you have the right to anything and everything that you desire; the lie that you have the right to do whatever you want with the things you have. But you, dear precious child of God, are his. You are not your own, but you belong to God. He has bought you with the price of the death of his own Son, giving you the victory over sin. He has put the new life of Christ in you, and has called you to do his will. As found in Matthew 6:33, his will is for you to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. Your confession must be that of which you sing: “All that I am I owe to Thee.” (Psalter #383) To better understand how you can live according to this command of God, let’s look a little closer at three areas of stewardship: time, talents, and possessions.
Your time, talents, and possessions belong to God. They are his, just as you are his. He has, in his perfect, sovereign will, given you a certain amount of time, talents, and possessions. These gifts God has entrusted to you differ from anyone else. God has given you exactly the amount that is enough for you. And with these gifts comes the command to use them to his glory and the benefit of the body of Christ. (I Peter 4:10) You are to use not just some of them, not just some of the time, but all of your gifts, all of the time. This requires diligence; constant and earnest effort. The opposite of diligence is slothfulness and laziness. (Prov. 6:6-11, and Prov. 24:30-34)
Consider for a moment the amount of time God has entrusted to you. Do you put him first with your time? Does your time of prayer to your maker, the study of his Word, and the serving of others in the body of Christ take priority over the time you spend engrossed in TV, sports, video games, working, and sleeping? How easy it is to simply say, “I just don’t have enough time.” What? Not enough time? God has given you just the exact amount of time that is good for you. Would he not give you enough time to serve him? “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” You may tell yourself that you’re young, and you have plenty of time for more serious study of God’s word in years to come. Is this the will of God, the command of God to you? Play hard now, relax as much as possible now, seek first the pleasures of this world, and wait until you’re older to use your time (His time) to serve and honor him? No. You are called to redeem the time. (Eph. 5:15-17) Do you strive to “find” time to study his Word and prepare for catechism just as heartily as you “find” time to get yourself ready for school or a date? Do you make as much time for prayer as you do for sports or time on the computer chatting with friends? Obviously, taking care of your physical body, participating in sports, and talking with friends is not wrong. God gives us time (and all earthly gifts) to enjoy. (I Tim. 6:17-19) But enjoyment is not to be the primary way in which your time is to be spent. As found in verse 19 of I Timothy 6, your time must consist of preparing yourself for your eternal home.
Consider also the talents, or abilities, that God has entrusted to you. Again, these are God-given, and while he has entrusted them to you, he still owns them, and calls you to use them to his glory. Just as with time, the abilities that God has given to you are different from anyone else. (Romans 12:1-9) Whether your ability is music or speaking, intelligence or creativity, you must use your abilities first to serve God and his church. This means work—diligence—not laziness. This means striving to do your best. (Romans 12:11) Do you consider this when you are completing a homework assignment? When you are playing an instrument, or singing? When you are playing sports? When you are working? (Remember, health and strength are gifts from God, and may not be taken for granted.) Along with doing your best, the command is also to do your best, putting God first. Do you rush through it just to get it finished? When you are playing an instrument, do you keep in the front of your mind that you must play for the glory of God, rather than the recognition of your peers? Are you using your intelligence to acquire the best-paying job so as to have all the money you’ll ever need to live a more-than-comfortable life; or are you always considering how you can use this gift to God’s honor and the welfare of his church? Doing this requires humility and self-denial. (Romans 12:3, 16) No matter which abilities, or how many, you do not have the right to do what you wish with them. God owns you and the gifts he has given to you, and commands you to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Pray earnestly for the desire to do so, and be thankful to God for the gifts he has blessed you with.
And, finally, a brief consideration of the possessions God has given you. At the risk of being repetitive, the possessions God has entrusted to you are his. Not yours to do with as you wish. Young child of God, you live in a very prosperous time, characterized by extreme materialism. You are bombarded with the message, “What you want, you should have. What you have, you should use it however you wish. And if you don’t have it, do whatever it takes to get it. Use a credit card. And the debt? Ah, don’t worry about it—everyone has debt. Work more hours to get it. Give less to the causes of the Kingdom. Do whatever you can do to get it, because everyone else has it, and you deserve it, and you will not have happiness without it.” Oh, but that’s not what the Word of God tells you. You are not told in Scripture to do whatever it takes to have the best of everything—clothes, accessories, car, home, toys. (Luke 12:15-21) God’s will (command) is that you pray for your daily bread, and be content with what God gives you, (I Tim. 6:6-8) trusting that God will provide your needs. (Matt. 6:31,32) Give to the causes of his kingdom. Rev. Carl Haak states in theStandard Bearer, Vol. 68, Issue 11: “The way of giving is the way of blessing. Greed, stinginess, covetousness result in spiritual barrenness. We are not made poor by liberal giving to God’s church and kingdom. Much rather, we shall experience blessedness. The promise of God is twofold. He says, “I will return unto you,” (Malachi 3:7) that is, in the way of a sincere stewardship we are given to enjoy the lovingkindness of God. God also says that he will richly supply our earthly needs, often beyond our imaginations. (Malachi 3:10 b)
With the warning of desiring earthly wealth and possessions also comes the warning of being wasteful, careless, and sloppy. (Prov. 10:4, Prov. 18:9) God forbids, in the eighth commandment, all abuse and waste of his gifts. (Lord’s Day 42 of the Heidelberg Catechism) Be resourceful. Take special care of the earthly possessions God has given to you. Strive to use his gifts according to his commands.
Precious child of God, pray for the desire to seek and live a spiritual life. Pray for the humility needed to do so. Pray that he will teach you to live according to this command, and search the Word of God so you will know what his will is for you. You are God’s precious child, and you belong to God, body and soul, time, talents, and possessions. Hold fast to his promise of your eternal reward. Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”