God created the heavens and the earth, the land, the vegetation, the living creatures and all else, then He created man; all belong to God. Psalms 89:11 expounds, "The heavens are yours and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it." John 1:3 talks more of the same, "Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. Colossians 1:16 develops this further, giving a deeper revelation of Christ, "For by Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.
God created everything else before He created man on the sixth day. Genesis 1:26 captures this, 'Then God said, "Let us make man in our image in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." In Genesis 1:28, God blessed man and asked him to be fruitful and subdue the earth. God gave dominion of the earth to man but he was to serve the Almighty. Man was to be a steward, a manager.
God is methodical in His dealings. He first plans then progressively carries out His intentions. If we therefore must be His stewards, we too must be systematic in the way that we do things. We must work like Him.
The Scriptures tell us that we were bought at a price and therefore have a double responsibility to glorify God. 1Peter 1:18 explains more, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. Man owns nothing; we are only custodians and caretakers and should therefore not think that we own anything. There will come a day when we will yet give an account of all that has been placed in our hands.
God's plan for the children of Israel was that people would be set free in the 50th year; slaves would no longer be slaves, land and property would be reverted to the original owners so that all had equitable ownership. Similarly, we too must enjoy that for which we are stewards.
Stewardship was in God's mind when He created man in Genesis 1:26, it is therefore our obligation to learn as much as we possibly can so that we know how we can dominate the things that God has allowed us to dominate. When God created the heavens and the earth, we are told that He saw that it was all good, so we too must live in such a way that God derives pleasure from our stewardship; this is our responsibility. In the parable of the talents in Mathew 25:30 we see how displeased the master was with the servant who had failed to bear fruit from what had been entrusted to him-"And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness , where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
God did not ask man to subdue nor dominate his fellow man; He blessed them collectively as they were to take care of all that He had given to them; Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ." God expects responsible stewardship of what He has given us or what He has called us to do- 1Corinthians 4:1-2 says, "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." Even those called to preach the Gospel have a mandate to do it in the way that is pleasing to God; 1Corithians 9:16-17 details, "Yet when I preach the Gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel. If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me."
God breathed life into man and blessed him. Life is important while we are in this side of heaven so we must take care of the bodies as well as our spirits. Some of us are negligent in the stewardship of our bodies. Some people are drunkards, some take drugs or some simply over eat and put too much strain on the body organs; but a good steward must take good care of all that has been given to him by God. Man's stewardship must follow God's initiative.
God is one, He is the LORD our God and calls Himself thus in Exodus 201:1. He has shown us His, love, mercies and grace in that while we were yet sinners, He gave up His Son to come and die for us-Romans 5:8. The only condition is that man must accept and believe in this Son Jesus Christ. John 3:18 distinguishes the non-believer from the believer, "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." If He has given us the ultimate gift, how can we fail to share that which He has given unto us? A good steward shares what God has given him. But he does this with wisdom lest he harms another; 1Corinthians 8:9 advises, "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak."
Good stewardship means that we recognize that everything we give comes from God and that we own nothing of what we have. David acknowledges this in 1 Chronicles 29:12, "Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all." In verse 14 he further concedes that we can only give what comes from God, "But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given only what comes from your hands."
We can never outgive God and we must give Him first priority in our lives so that He may continuously bless us. Proverbs 3:9-10 advises us how and why, "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Giving back to God what He has given us shows that we give Him the very first priority in our lives.. Thanksgiving must accompany all our prayers.
But we should not love what God gives to us more than we love the giver Himself. Mathew 6:33 advises that we first seek the kingdom of God and all else will be added unto us. In this way, when we are blessed with property, we will be wise to ask God what He would have us do with it. The folly of loving our wealth more is declared in Proverbs 11:28, "Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." The discipline of loving God more than what we have calls for intimacy with Him, integrity and consistency in our lives. When we seek Him first, we increase in our wisdom.
Stewardship therefore means being as methodical as our Maker is, seeking counsel and being diligent in our dealings because when we realize that people are God's image bearers, we will want to give them nothing but our best. We have no choice but to be good stewards as we will be answerable on judgment day.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.