What Is Stewardship?
We are to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices. This means we are to give our time, our energy, and our very selves to Him as acts of worship and gratitude. But we must always be aware that God has given us these and all things. Biblical giving, therefore, is done in the context of stewardship, our management of the good things the Father showers upon us.
We are to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices
The concept of stewardship begins with creation. Creation is celebrated not only in Genesis but throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms, where God’s ownership of the universe is declared: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). God is the author of all things, the Creator of all things, and the owner of all things. Whatever God makes, He owns. What we own, we own as stewards who have been given gifts from God Himself. God has the ultimate ownership of all of our “possessions.” He has loaned these things to us and expects us to manage them in a way that will honor and glorify Him.
The word that is translated “stewardship” in the Bible is the Greek word oikonomia, from which we get our word economy. It is two distinct words joined together to create a new word: oikos, which comes from the Greek word for house, and nomos, the Greek word for law. The word that is translated “stewardship” literally means “house law” or “house rule.”
In the ancient culture, the steward was not the owner of the house. Rather, he was hired by the owner to manage his house affairs. The steward managed the property and was responsible to allocate the resources of the home. It was his job to make sure that the cupboards were filled with food, the money was taken care of, the grounds were tended, and the house was kept in good repair.
Humankind’s stewardship began in the Garden of Eden, where God gave Adam and Eve full dominion over the entire creation. Adam and Eve were not given ownership of the world; rather, they were given the responsibility of managing it. They were to insure that the garden was tilled and cultivated, and not abused or exploited, and that the goods God provided were neither spoiled nor wasted. So what we are talking about, fundamentally, when we discuss biblical stewardship is responsibility for managing or allocating resources that do not belong to us. They belong, ultimately, to God.
This excerpt is from R.C. Sproul’s Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow.