Life stewardship is grounded in the foundational truth that God is the Owner of all things. This truth has far-reaching impact into every area of our lives.
God owns our homes, our cars, our bank accounts, our investments, our children, our spouses, our bodies, our time, our abilities — just to name a few of the areas. And because of this “God owns it all” reality, our understanding of our relationship to what we possess is radically changed from thinking of ourselves as the owners of all we possess to understanding that we are to be trusted stewards or managers of someone else’s property.
Out of this “we are only the managers and not the owners” mindset emerges a life-changing question that we cannot help but ask. And it demands that we ask it on a daily basis. This life-transforming question is, “Lord, what do you want me to do with all that you have entrusted to me?”
It is no longer “How do I want to spend my day?” It is now, “God, how do you want me to spend Your day?”
It is no longer, “How do I want to spend my money?” It is now, “God, how do you want me to spend Your money?”
It is no longer, “How much of my money do I want to give to the Lord?” It is now, “God, how much of Your money should I be spending on myself?”
It is no longer, “How do I want to care for and feed my body?” It is now, “God, how do You want me to care for and feed Your body?”
It is no longer, “What kind of house and car do I want to have?” It is now, “God, what kind of house and car do You want me to have?”
See how this ownership issue impacts every single area of our lives?
For those of us who are now asking this profound question, there is also a second question that logically emerges as we seek to answer this first question. And this second question is what I want to answer for you. The question is this, “Exactly how do we get directions from the Owner regarding what He wants us to do with all that He has entrusted to us?” “Okay, I’m convinced,” you say, “I want to follow His directions on how to manage His property. So, how do I get my directions from Him?”
There are three different ways in which God can and does personally deliver His Owner directions to us. In this three-part series, I will begin with the most obvious and objective way He directs us and end with the most subtle and subjective way He communicates with us. The first way God directs us is: Through His Word.
If we want to discover what our Owner wants us to do with all that He has entrusted us to manage for Him, we need to spend time in His book. This should be so obvious that I hesitate to highlight it. Research shows that less than 10% of all professing Christians have even read through the entire Bible once in their lifetime. So, is it any wonder why so many believers are living lives that are spiritual contradictions often without even realizing it? If we have never even read the entire “Instruction Manual for Managers of the Owner’s Property,” should we be surprised that we might not be doing all that great of a job of stewarding all His stuff He has given us to manage?
Here are three ways we ought to be regularly interacting with His written Word:
We need to be READERS of His Word.
I often have believers tell me that the reason they don’t spend more time reading the Word is because they are simply too busy with life to do much of it.
That is interesting in light of two studies that were recently released. The Forrester Group reports that the average time Americans spend on the internet is about 48 hours a month or 12 hours a week. The Nielsen Company’s “Three Screen Report” – which reports American’s viewing of television programs and movies on TV, computers, and smartphones – has now increased to a new high of more than 151 hours a month or over 37 hours a week. These two reports indicate that the average American is spending about 191 hours a month, or almost 40 hours a week engaged in one of these two recreational activities. That’s about eight hours a day. My point here is not to bash TV watching or internet use, but to ask ourselves, don’t we have plenty of available time each day to be reading the Bible if we wanted to? Can we be totally honest with ourselves and one another and admit that spending time reading the Owner’s Manual is far more a matter of having a desire to read it than it is, having the time to read it?
So, just how much time each day would it take to read all God’s Directions to His Managers in one year, if we did want to? If you were to read the Bible out loud, it would take you 12.5 minutes a day. Since most people read faster than they talk, reading it silently would take about 7.5 minutes a day for the average reader to completely read God’s directions for His stewards once a year.
David expresses his love for being in the Word in Psalm119:105. He confesses, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Let me ask you, “Do you like walking around in the dark?” I sure don’t. Without being in the Word on a regular basis, we are in effect, walking around in the dark. And it is no surprise that we might not be doing that great of a job managing what the Owner has entrusted to us, if we are not regularly reviewing the directions from His Managers’ Training Manual.
So, for us, isn’t the beginning of getting started in reading the Bible on a daily basis more about heart change than it is a schedule change?
We need to be STUDENTS of His Word.
It is a good thing to read the Word on a regular basis, but we also need to dig deeper and become students of the Word. Paul encouraged Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I would hope all of us would be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who “were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They weren’t just reading the Book; they were studying it. The insights that I share with you in my Life Stewardship studies have not come from simply reading the Word, they have come from studying it deeply and meditating on it for years. Are you willing to become not just a reader, but a student of the Owner’s Manual?
We need to be MEMORIZERS of His Word.
We not only need to get the Word of God in our head, we also need to get it in our hearts. I love what David says in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” The internalized/memorized word may be the single best deterrent I know of to prevent us from becoming careless, sloppy, and disobedient stewards.
Let me give you an example of what I am saying here. Do you remember when Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan? On three different occasions, Satan tried to tempt Him to betray His Father and His mission. On all three occasions, Jesus rebuffed Satan’s temptation by quoting from the Word of God. What you may not know is that all three of the Scriptures He quoted were from the same book of the Bible. Do you know what book it was? He quoted three times from the book of Deuteronomy. Now, here is the problem for many believers today: The overwhelming majority of believers have never even read Deuteronomy. Many may have trouble even finding it in their Bible and few if any, have even one verse of Deuteronomy commit-ted to memory. So when tempted as Christ was tempted to follow the ways of the world, we, unlike Him, are completely unarmed to resist these temptations because we do not have His Word committed to memory.
My point is this, if we want to be successful in navigating our way through the countless enticements of living in this tempting, materialistic world, we better have a host of Scripture committed to memory that can anchor us to the Owner and His directives. Treasuring His word in our hearts will keep us from wandering away by staying focused on being good and faithful managers.
So, exactly how do we get directions from the Owner regarding what He wants us to do with all that He has entrusted to us? The first way is to be continuously reading His Word, studying His Word, and memorizing His Word and then most importantly, we need to be equally commit-ted to obeying it. Are you ready to become an expert in the directions given in the Owner’s Manual?
© 2014 Stewardship Ministries | All Rights Reserved.
E. G. “Jay” Link is the Chief Steward of Stewardship Ministries, a comprehensive discipleship ministry to pastors, their churches, and individual believers to equip them in how to effectively live the life of a good and faithful steward of all God has entrusted to them. He is the author of four books, Who’s in Charge Here, Spiritual Thoughts on Material Things: Thirty Days of Food for Thought, To Whom Much is Given: Navigating the Ten Life Dilemmas Affluent Christians Face, and Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter. He may be reached via email at jlink@StewardshipMinistries.org.
This article originally appeared in The RENEWANATION Review, Volume 6 Issue 2. If you would like to become a member and receive a print edition of the magazine, please click here. If you would like to learn about other ways you can get involved, please click here.