by Steve Van Nattan
Aug. 2022

The favorite sermon topic of the average Baptist preacher is stewardship. Of course, this short sighted preacher has only the offering plate in mind, and he always hammers the sheep to pay their tithes. Some even use Faith Promise, a totally unbiblical concept, to convince us to pay our tithes forward in the form of vows based on the gifts of God we do not yet have. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow..." [Matt. 6:34] Ever hear that from someone? God holds you responsible for ONLY what you have now. [Also see: 2 Cor. 8:11-14]

So, what is involved in stewardship?

In terms of everything God made, the part we can see and live in, stewardship involves Space, Time, and Matter. How we use these three is the bedrock of stewardship, that is, whatever part of the whole universe God has given to me to control and use. This is a rather large piece of stuff to try to conceptualize, right?

But, a simpler way to deal with the topic is in these three resources which God gives us all, whether much or little:

Time, money, and energy. 

I suggest you take your share of these resources into the laboratory of your mind and soul for examination. For the next week, end your day with a quiet time, and list the ways you used your Time, Money, and Energy, and how much of it clearly was for the benefit of Jesus Christ. Write it down.

Do not make lofty goals for a week. Do the self-examination. Then the next week, look at your previous week, and every evening decide one thing you will do different the next day. It may be to stop by and visit some old lonely saint. It may be to take another Christian out for coffee or lunch. It may be to vigorously watch for a homeless person and see that they have a good lunch, either with you, or deliver it to them.

The notion that tithing is the beginning and end of stewardship is cheap stewardship, and it asks very little of you.

You see, stewardship is so often about doing to others, and the money is the resource that makes it possible. Our time we must also factor in and make space for the deed to play itself out. It is cheap stewardship to hand a ten dollar bill to a homeless person. What is a noble use of my resources is when I invest all three, time, money, and energy to meet someone's need.

I Peter 4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In this text we see no money in stewardship, at least a minimum of cash. What we see is that we are given gifts from God to use to minister to others, both the saved and the sinners. Those gifts are always one or all of the three: Time, Money, or energy. And, God does not expect the same amount of energy from me as he does from you. Verse 11 is the Energy aspect. God may give you lots of energy or ability. I must not use you as my model for ministering. But, I must be a steward of the energy He has given me.

Are we so busy, or plain selfish, that our home is seldom used to entertain the saints? Peter commands us, "Use hospitality." Time, Money, and Energy may mean leaving an evening open, buy some good cuts of beef, and invite some struggling saints to your home for fellowship. It simply all depends on who has the preeminence in your life, Jesus and his people, or YOU?

How about those college students in your church who are far from home and may be lonely? If you have them over, I suggest you also invite some older extrovert senior in your church who loves Jesus so that the students can mix up and learn about the old ways from the past. Ask your senior friend to prepare a short Bible devotional to end the evening.

Jesus does not only give you resources based on your need. He also gives you gifts based on what you did with what He already gave you. To see Him teach this, read Matthew 25:14-30.

Enough said. Now, go be a good steward, not for me, but for Jesus.


Editor's Note: Some of us have limitations - physical, financial, mental, time - that seem to make it harder to do these things. Some may actually have been tricked into believing that if they don't have money to give there isn't much they can do or that money is the only thing that really counts. Some preachers will even belabor the idea of "giving till it hurts," implying that if you don't you lack faith. But, that isn't what the Bible says. In fact, the church in Corinth gave themselves before they gave their money. 2 Corinthians 8:4-5 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Have you ever stopped to consider what the health of the body of Christ would look like if Christians gave themselves to God's work before they gave their money? I have a feeling it would be a lot better than it generally is at present.

Maybe you should ask the Lord to help you use your imagination or to stretch yourself a little. Set aside some time and energy to phone a Christian lady who could use encouragement (can't we all?) and just talk. Take the time to send out some Bible verses or Christian poetry in texts or email to ladies you know. Ask someone what you can pray for them this week, and then make sure you do it. Buy one or two extra items to give to someone in your church or neighborhood who is struggling to make ends meet. Pray extra for your friends on social media who are going through hard things. Give some flowers from your garden to someone. Send snail mail to someone. Share the bounty of your garden or fruit trees. Use the wakeful hours of the night to pray for others. 

Your list may have things that apply to your God-given abilities very specifically, but whatever the case, there are things you can give beyond the offering plate. There are many ways we can be better stewards of our time, energy, and resources. We just need to ask the Lord to help us find them. 

1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 


background and graphics by Mary Stephens
vintage graphic: unknown source