I’ve been thinking lately about stewardship. That’s not a word we hear very often 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 behalf of another person.
The Bible describes stewards in several places. 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).
But 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. He owns it all. All we do is take care of it—and use it—for Him.
After attending church for most of my life, I’d gotten used to thinking of stewardship in very specific terms, for example:
- The ability to earn money comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). Our clever investments can be wiped away in moments.
- 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. 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. Even our bodies are not 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 I hadn’t previously considered in terms of stewardship: we’re also stewards of God’s grace.
First Peter 4:10 (ESV) tells us, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” We’re to be grace givers.
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. We are 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 a negative sense! To teach people not to mess with me. To give them what they deserve . . . as I decide!
Of course, I can hoard God’s grace for myself, but when we hoard grace, we become self-righteous and arrogant. We’re saying by our actions that while we are worthy of God’s grace, others are not. However, no one is worthy to receive grace, including you and me. In fact, if worthiness were the standard, it wouldn’t be grace, it would be wages or earnings.
Why am I writing this now? Look around. Between the pandemic restrictions and the racial injustice and unrest, grace is in short supply. We’re shouting at each other over almost every point of disagreement, from police brutality to wearing masks in public.
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. Because that’s what God does for me . . . and for you. And then He calls us to be grace givers.
How difficult is it for you to be a grace giver?
What can you do today to grant grace to those in your life who least deserve it?