Following Jesus, fulfilling His mission

Stewards of God’s Resources 1 Peter 4:10

Stewards of God’s Resources – Living Generously 1 Peter 4:7-10

Personal stewardship is what we do with what we have.
In a culture that encourages us to live as far above our means as possible, personal stewardship can often be a source of worry, guilt, or confusion.

A steward is a manager, not an owner. He is one who manages the property of another. God is the owner and we are the managers of all He has given – grace, creation, gifts, stuff.

The goal of a biblically-grounded framework on stewardship is to challenge and encourage us as believers to align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God.

This calls for…

  1. an understanding of who is master
  2. an acknowledgement that all we have is of grace, and
  3. a commitment to align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God (grace, creation, gifts…)

Transition: What we have been looking at from the truth and wisdom of the Bible is that we are really not the true owners of the things we have, of the world we live in; God is, and that that truth ought to inspire and develop our ability to live and give generously.

Jesus taught that none of our stuff is really ours. It belongs to God.

We view this subject differently generationally – ie. Aust Social researcher Hugh Mackay argues that generationally, our hearts re resources are in different places.

Lucky generation (1926-46) had little (or parents did) – “frugal”.

Boomers (those of us born ’46-‘60) who may live with a “more” mindset –movie classic in the eighties, “Wall Street,” where Michael Douglas’ character stated the Boomer’s financial mantra: “Greed is good.”

Busters/Xrs (early 60’s/‘80’s) likely live with a “mine

Gen Y who likely live with a “me” mindset. / gen Z

Each of these broad generalised stereotypes has self at the centre.

Here’s the thing:  each of these mindsets will make it very hard for us to live and give generously. Individualism. Consumerism. Entitlement.

Stewardship of what we have challenges (encourages) us to align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God, and God is glorified when we reflect His values when it comes to living generously.

“God’s ownership of everything also changes the kind of question we ask in giving. Rather than, ‘How much of my money should I give to God?’ we learn to ask, ‘How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?’ The difference between these two questions is of monumental proportions.” Richard Foster in The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power (42).

  1. Change the language (see Gary Hoag) – Talk about giving with New Test terms

The language for giving in the NT shifts from percentage (“tithe”) to participation (koinonia, cf. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32, Philippians 1:3-5, Romans 15:25-27, 2 Corinthians 9:13).

Acts 2:42–47 (ESV) 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. 2 Corinthians 9:12–13

So we move from the language of the law to the language of love.

  1. Shift from percentage to participation (in Kingdom work)

Jesus instructs followers not to store up treasures on earth but to store them up in heaven. “Wealth will always be lost – either it leaves us while we live or we leave it when we die. No exceptions…”

To live this way requires followers to depend on God for daily bread and everything else (Matthew 6:9-13, 19-24)

Matthew 6:9–13 (NLT) 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need, 12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. 13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:19–24 (NLT) 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be… 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

The invitation of Jesus here re not storing up treasures on earth is to be kingdom people depend upon a new Master, the giver of all our stuff, and investing in kingdom work.

Law language is abandoned for grace terminology.

  1. Remember the poor (giving out of participation in Gospel)

Irenaeus of Lyons “Instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbours but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions. 180 ad

Scripture repeatedly reveals God’s care for the widow, the poor, the fatherless and the stranger, and also reveals His anger at those who deprive them of what they need to live.

Mark 12:38-44 context of loving God and loving your neighbour

Her example challenges and encourages us as believers to align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God.

Conclusion

In his book The Emerging Order: God in the Age of Scarcity, Jeremy Rifkin says, “Emphasis on continuous economic growth is a black hole that has already sucked up a majority of the world’s critical, nonrenewable resources.”

“… the only solution to our approach to life is the reemergence of the evangelical Christian ethic, which is an ethic of unselfishness and low consumption.”

Tim Keller: Materialism stops you from asking hard questions about your lifestyle. You don’t consider the possibility that you’re greedy.

This calls for…

  1. an understanding of who is master
  2. an acknowledgement that all we have is of grace, and
  3. a commitment to align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God

Copper coin thinking – asking

  1. Rather than, ‘How much of my money should I give to God?’ we learn to ask, ‘How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?’ (Foster)
  2. How does my debt reflect my greed or excess that prevents me from living generously?
  3. copper coin thinking – other, self denial, gratitude – align our calling and lives on kingdom outcomes that bring glory to God