How to Be a Good Steward
“Bring the full tithes…. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing (v. 10).- Malachi 3:8–12
Stewardship, the wise use of our resources to glorify God, is the final means of grace that we will discuss in our study of five basic practices of Christian piety. The way we allocate our time, effort, and money speaks volumes about our heart’s priorities, giving us a clear window into our own spiritual maturity.
Our Creator instituted the principle of stewardship in creation when He gave humanity the task of exercising dominion over the earth He created (Gen. 1:27–28). Ever since then, all people have been tasked with managing their natural resources for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom. This is a principle that is easy to forget because we like to think of our paychecks, properties, investments, energy, and time as our own. Yet “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1), and everything to which we attach our name and regard as our “own” belongs ultimately to the Almighty. Our possessions are just temporarily “on loan,” as it were, from God.
Wise stewardship is vital to living coram Deo, before the face of God in a manner pleasing to God. Every dollar we spend in one place is a dollar we cannot spend somewhere else, and if our priorities with our time, money, and talents are not the same as the Lord’s, we are guilty of sin. We can waste our resources like the prodigal son did (Luke 15:11–13), or we can put them to good use in the church.
In today’s passage, God chastises His people for robbing Him and failing to bring their tithes to the storehouse (Mal. 3:8). Unfortunately, this problem continues in the covenant community even today. Routine surveys tell us that more than ninety percent of professing evangelicals fail to tithe. Our priorities rarely conform to the Lord’s. Worship and education are among God’s chief concerns for His people (Lev. 10:3; Deut. 6:6–7), but pastors and teachers consistently rank as the lowest paid professionals in the United States.
Christ’s coming did not abrogate the command to bring our tithes into the storehouse, though we often live contrariwise. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matt. 6:21), and our checkbooks are one of the best objective guides to the deepest desires of our hearts.
Dr. R.C. Sproul notes that we are free today to give to a variety of Christian causes because in the new covenant there is no longer just one storehouse as under the old covenant. The lion’s share of the tithe should go to one’s local church, he says, but we may also contribute to Christian schools and seminaries, parachurch ministries, and mission organizations as part of our giving. Are you giving to the Lord’s work according to His demands?
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 5:17–18