I’ve been thinking lately about stewardship. That’s not a word we use much in our culture anymore. It’s one of those words that seems to have fallen out of favor. Most people haven’t noticed. But maybe we should notice.
A steward is someone who has the responsibility to manage the affairs of someone else. Familiar examples in our culture would be a business manager or someone who has been given power of attorney to act on our behalf.
Stewards are mentioned in several places in the Bible. They are to:
– be trustworthy (I Corinthians 4:2)
– be above reproach (Titus 1:7)
– act in their boss’s best interests (Matthew 25:14-30)
– always be prepared to give an account to their boss (Luke 12:42-46).
Stewardship is not limited to relationships with other people. Did you know Christians are also stewards for God? We’re stewards because, despite our belief to the contrary, everything we have has been given to us by God. God owns it all. All we do is take care of it — and use it — for Him.
After attending church most of my life, I’d gotten used to thinking of stewardship in very specific terms, for example:
Our ability to earn money comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). Our clever investments can be wiped away in moments. For those who doubt this, have you checked your Wall Street investments lately?
Our time comes from God. The twenty-four hours in every day? Not ours. In fact, we’re not promised days, hours, minutes, or even seconds. Only God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – existed before time began. He created time and He determines the measure of our days.
Our talents, skills and abilities come from God. Actually, our bodies are not even ours. God owns us twice over: once when He created us, and then again when He purchased us back through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
But there’s one thing that I’d never considered in terms of stewardship: we are also stewards of God’s grace.
I Peter 4:10 (ESV) says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
God gives us His grace – His undeserved favor and love. But that grace is not ours to hoard. As God gives it to us, He expects to use it through us. He expects us to give as much grace as we get.
Ouch! That kind of behavior does not come naturally for me. My natural inclination is to give as good as I get – in the negative sense! To teach people not to mess with me. To give them what they deserve…as I determine!
Of course, I can hoard God’s grace for myself, but when we hoard grace, we become self-righteous and arrogant. We are saying by our actions that while we are worthy of God’s grace, others are not. But no one is worthy to receive grace, including you and me. In fact, if worthiness was the standard, it wouldn’t be called grace, it would be called wages or earnings.
So the next time someone treats me in a way that clearly doesn’t deserve grace, that’s the very time I need to grant it…’cause that’s what God does for me…and for you.
How difficult is it for you to be a grace-giver?
What can you do today to grant grace to those who least deserve it?