1. MAN AS A STEWARD
A steward is a person who is manager of another's goods. With such responsibility there always comes a day of reckoning. Sooner or later the time arrives when the steward will be called upon to render a personal accounting.
Over what was man given dominion after the creation of all things?
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
Did the world belong to man?
God says, "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Note: The Lord entrusted the management of things on earth to man. "And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Genesis 2:15. Read Psalm 115:16; Genesis 1:28.
What portion of the Garden of Eden did God reserve for Himself?
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Note: This tree of the knowledge of good and evil became the test of man's acknowledgment of God's ownership of all things.
When Adam and Eve failed (Genesis 3:6) what did God do?
drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the
When the day of reckoning came what questions were asked?
"And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."
Unfaithfulness on the part of man was sin. However, God promised to redeem fallen man. Read Genesis 3:15. God pronounced judgment on the devil and predicted the coming of One to deliver man from sin. What does God require of us as stewards today? Our question should be: "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits towards me?" Psalm 116:12.
2. STEWARDSHIP OF TALENTS
After Christ had revealed some of the signs of His return he told His disciples to watch and be ready. What is involved with watching for Christ's coming? Jesus gave His parable of the talents to answer this question. It is evident that Jesus intended that the time of waiting be spent in diligent labor.
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." Mathew 25:14, 15.
What two things have been given to God's servants?
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch."
How did the master's servants make use of their authority and talents?
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money."
Note: The talents of money in the parable represent the abilities God entrusted with each one of us and they are to be used in glorifying God and in blessing our fellowmen.
What talents has Christ entrusted to His church through the Holy Spirit?
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
1 Corinthians 12:8-11.
Note: Some abilities are inherited – a natural bent for some things; other abilities are acquired through training. Some abilities are supernatural endowments of the Holy Spirit. Since we live and move and have our being in God (Acts ), in a very real sense our abilities have been given us of God. The particular abilities listed in this text are supernatural endowments.
Upon what basis does God expect returns?
"But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
Luke 12:48, last part.
Note: God has bestowed talents to each of His servants. It should be of no concern of ours as to how many talents God has given us. We should, however, ask, What am I doing with the talents I have received?
What did the master say to the man who hid his talent?
"His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury."
Mathew 25:26, 27.
What words of condemnation were spoken to the servant who had used his talents?
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
When God gives a talent to be used He gives His servant full responsibility. "And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come." Luke 19:13. However, with the responsibility the master will one day expect the steward to give an account. "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." Mathew 25:19. "And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward." Luke 16:1, 2. Let us ask God to help us to be faithful in our stewardship.
3. STEWARDSHIP OF TIME
Time is a talent given to every person. All are given the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day. We are admonished to redeem time. But how can this be? Paul says, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." Colossians 4:5. There is no way to call back even one moment of time. Therefore, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15, 16. It is our duty as stewards to make the most of the time remaining by seeking constantly to do God's will.
What is it time to do now?
"Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."
Note: The ancient prophet expresses a universal truth. It is always present duty to seek God. Read 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Should there be concern on our part as to our spiritual condition at the present time? If so, why?
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
Approximately how much time does God give us?
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
"Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?"
What is our spiritual work during the time allotted to us?
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:20.
Note: As we sow the gospel seed in our time it is encouraging to know that "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalm 126:5, 6.
When should we do our work for God?
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
How much time to earn a living does God give us each week?
"Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
Does it make any difference what is done on the seventh day?
"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."
Isaiah 58:13, 14.
Note: While it is true the Sabbath was made for man yet it must be remembered that Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath day. Read Luke 6:5. "The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God." Exodus 20:10. Since this is true, God has the right to tell us how to observe His day to our benefit.
As a faithful steward of time, what three things ought I to do now?
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
Note: Living in the time when Christ will soon appear it is important to improve our time by reading God's Word, listening to God's Word proclaimed, and then conforming our lives to what He says.
It seems that there is "a time to every purpose under heaven." Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Man often struts and shouts as if he were master. Man is steward over the things entrusted to him by God. Never forget it – God is the time keeper. The above verses in Ecclesiastes are God's time bill which indicates times of change, of direction, and of progress. As stewards of God it is up to us to be faithful at every time in the discharging of our responsibilities. The great thing is to know the time and to say the right thing at the right moment.
4. STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY
The stewardship of money involves God's claim upon our finances. Let us inquire, "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?" Psalm 116:12. The spirit of giving is the spirit of heaven. Read John 3:16. No selfish person will ever enter into heaven. There are three kinds of givers – the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. You must hammer the flint to get chips and sparks only. You must squeeze the sponge to get water. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Let us determine to not be like the flint, stingy and hard, nor like the sponge, which must be pressed to give. We ought to be like the honeycomb, for the Bible says, "God loveth a cheerful giver." 1 Corinthians 9:7.
By whose power is wealth obtained?
"But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day."
Read Proverbs 10:22.
How much belongs to God?
"The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Read also Psalm 100:3; 50:10, 11; Haggai 2:8.
How much of our income is holy unto the Lord?
"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD… And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD."
Leviticus 27:30, 32.
Read Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2, 4.
Note: What is a tithe? The Bible says
Abram pursued the kings who had plundered
Out of what portion of the income is the tithe to be taken?
"Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:"
Note: Some have felt they do not have to tithe because it takes all they make to pay their bills. That is a mistake. When the tithe is given to God first, the nine-tenths will be blessed of God. Read Proverbs 3:10.
In addition to the tithe what else does God require?
"Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts."
Note: An offering is no certain amount. The offering is given according as God has prospered. Read 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:12; 9, 7. We owe God the tithe. The offering is given to God out of the portion He gives us. In tithing we fulfill a duty, whereas, in giving an offering we show our appreciation for God's many blessings.
What blessing is pronounced on those who are faithful in returning to God that which is His?
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts."
Malachi 3:10, 11.
What can those expect who are unfaithful in tithes and offerings?
"Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation."
Read Haggai 1:5-11.
For what was the tithe to be used?
behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in
Should the ministry be supported from the tithe today?
"Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
1 Corinthians 9:13, 14.
Did Jesus endorse the tithing system?
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
Where should we put our tithe?
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Note: The storehouse means the treasuries of God's church. Read Nehemiah 13:12. It is the duty of the treasurer to distribute the tithe to support God's ministries. Read Nehemiah 13:13.
In nature some things multiply by dividing. Some cells increase by splitting. Plants multiply only when the seeds are sown liberally. A farmer who sows sparingly reaps sparingly. It is the same in God's kingdom. We should tithe our income because we love God and in acknowledgment of God's ownership of all things. We are dependant upon God for all our blessings, and He bestows them in numberless ways.
5. STEWARDSHIP OF THE BODY
The Bible has much to say about healthful living. Sometimes man reasons that the care of the human body is strictly up to him. No one has the right to tell him what to do regarding the care of his body. This reasoning is wrong on at least two counts. First, God created man in His own image. Read Genesis 1:26, 27. Second, as stewards over our bodies we are to glorify God. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.
What is God's desire for His children?
"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
3 John 2.
Note: God promised His people, "I will take sickness away from the midst of thee." Exodus 23:25. God promised not to allow disease to afflict His people provided they would keep all His commandments. Read Exodus 10:31.
In what ways are we to glorify God?
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31.
How serious a matter is it to disregard the proper care of the body?
In John, Chapter 5, is the account of a
cripple at the pool of
How are our bodies to be presented to God?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
What was the original diet prescribed for man?
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."
Why did God place restrictions on the diet of His people?
"for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing."
Deuteronomy 14:2, 3.
What particular animal does God say is unfit for food?
"And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase."
Read Leviticus 11:7, 8.
Note: There are two whole chapters, Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, devoted entirely to giving a list of clean and unclean animals. Read Mark 5:1-13 where it is evident Jesus did not regard swine as fit for food. Based on gathering up the leftovers when He had fed five thousand (Mark -44) and when He fed the four thousand (Mark 8:5-9) if the herd of 2,000 swine had been fit for food He would not have permitted their destruction.
What was the meaning of the sheet with all the kinds of animals which was let down from heaven in Peter's vision?
"And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean… Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him… When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
Acts , 34, 35; .
Note: God was not trying to show Peter that all kinds of animals and creeping things are good for food but rather that the Gentiles were not to be regarded as unclean and unfit to receive the gospel.
What can those expect who persist in eating swine's flesh until Jesus comes?
"For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD."
Note: Such judgments of God foretold to come upon His sinning ancient people, clearly indicate what His judgment will be on similar sins in the ultimate day of the Lord.
What counsel does God give concerning the use of intoxicating drinks?
"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."
Proverbs 23:31, 32.
Read also Proverbs 20:1.
Should a Christian use tobacco?
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31.
Read Romans 12:1.
Note: It is today a recognized fact that tobacco is harmful to the human body. With our knowledge no one can smoke, chew, dip, drink, use drugs for kicks, etc. to the glory of God. Hence, the Christian abstains from taking any thing harmful into his body, and uses only the good in moderation.
Since God made man He knows what is best for him. He gave man permission to eat such animals as deer, sheep, cows or any animal with a split hoof and which also chews the cud. The eating of squirrel, rabbits, and hogs is not permitted. Fish which have fins and scales are good for food, but eels, catfish, lobsters, crabs, oysters, and clams are unfit for food. No general rule is given to distinguish between clean and unclean birds. In Leviticus 11 a list of twenty birds is mentioned as being prohibited. Some fowl considered clean are the dove, partridge, quail, chicken, turkey, etc. Read Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Daniel set a good example for us in eating and drinking. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." Daniel 1:8.
6. STEWARDSHIP OF EVERYDAY LIVING
Stewardship in every day living is a big job. It involves a complete transformation of man's life. The only way this is possible is to heed God's request, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." Proverbs 23:26. It is when Christ dwells in the heart by faith that a person's thoughts and various habits of life will be brought into conformity to the standards as set forth in the Scriptures.
What is the divine rule God has given to regulate all that the Christian will do, hear, see, read, say, or think?
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Read Mathew 7:12.
What standard has God given to guide in marriage?
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
2 Corinthians 6:14.
For how long has the marriage been binding?
"And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Note: Read what Jesus said about divorce in Mathew 19:3-9 and Mathew 5:32.
What is to be the Christian's relationship to the world?
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
2 Corinthians 6:17.
Read John 2:15-17.
What principles are to guide us in the music we sing and listen to?
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound."
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms."
What principles has God given regarding adornment?
"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."
1 Timothy 2:9.
"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
1 Peter 3:3, 4.
Note: Voluptuous dressing was quite
generally associated with forgetting God. Read Hosea 2:13. Failing to live by the
Bible principles of dress fosters pride and rebellion against the Lord and His
will. Read Isaiah 3:16-26. At Padanaram Jacob
became involved with pride and idolatry. When he prepared to return to God, all
of the old relics were discarded. Read Genesis 35:2-4. While in
A person cannot afford to live contrary to the Word of God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Colossians 3:16, 17.