Stewardship: It's All About Him

After finishing seminary, I became the pastor of the Woodland (Wash.) Church which was exciting, challenging and a bit intimidating because Mel Rees was a member of the congregation. Rees was the Oregon Conference stewardship director and the recognized expert on stewardship throughout the Seventh-day Adventist church. Fortunately, he was also very approachable and became a cherished mentor. Each Wednesday afternoon, I joined him for an individualized stewardship class, enjoyed supper around his table and then went with him to prayer meeting.

One of the first things I learned was every person becomes a steward at birth and remains one until death. We may be a good steward or a bad steward. We may be in the church or out of it. But we are still stewards, nothing more and nothing less. We do not own anything. God is the Owner of everything — even our lives. "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him," (Psalm 24:1, NLT).

Sometimes we hear the expression, "It's my life, I'll do with it what I like." But that shows ignorance of both our creation and our created purpose. Every one of us belongs to God first by creation and second by redemption. "Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? (Malachi 2:10). "Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price," (I Corinthians 6:19, 20). God is the Owner, and we are His stewards.

As stewards, we are under the constant care and protection of a loving God, who regards us as His children. Our time and talent, our health and wealth, are good gifts to be used in the Owner's service.

Rees recalled talking with a group of farmers one time. One asked, "Do you mean to say that I don't own my farm?"

"I'm afraid not," replied Rees.

"Do you have any idea how long and hard I worked before I was able to pay off the mortgage and get my place free of debt?" the farmer asked. "And you still say I don't own it?"

Rees continued, "You remember your neighbor who died a couple of years ago? How much land did he own?"

"About a section [640 acres]," said the farmer.

"Did you go to the funeral? How much of his farm did he take with him? Not even one handful of dirt?"

"I see what you mean," replied the farmer.

God owns it all. It is not the possession of things that is wrong, but the claiming of ownership that really belongs to God. Christian stewardship is a total commitment. If we believe that, we'll want to handle our Owner's goods as He would handle them himself. We are called upon to carry out the Owners wishes completely — to care for our time, talent, health and wealth as God directs. And with this responsibility comes accountability. There cannot be one without the other. "Yes, each one of us will have to give a personal account to God," (Romans 14:12). How carefully each Christian should manage the resources God has provided. How carefully we should check the effective results of our stewardship responsibility.

“One of the first things I learned was every person becomes a steward at birth and remains one until death … We do not own anything. God is the Owner of everything — even our own lives.”

January 01, 2010 / Editorial
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Max Torkelsen II