Real, Basic Stewardship
You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.
At this time of year, many churches focus on stewardship. For sixteen years as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I would preach sermons on this core biblical them. Yes, these sermons were part of our effort to encourage people to make "faith commitments," financial pledges to support the ministry of the church in the next year. But I continually reminded my congregation that real stewardship wasn't about money. Rather, it was living our whole lives in faithfulness to God's intention in making us in his image and giving us charge over his creation.
Psalm 8 celebrates real, basic stewardship. The psalm begins by praising the majesty of God as revealed in creation. Yet the glory of God in the universe accentuates the apparent insignificance of human beings: "What are people that you should think about them?" (8:4). The startling answer to this question comes from the very creation of humanity, as revealed in Genesis 1 and underscored in Psalm 8. God, in fact, created humanity "a little lower than God" and "crowned them with glory and honor" (8:5). Moreover, he delegated to human beings the care of his creation: "You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority" (8:6). God made us to be his stewards who manage his creation for his purposes and benefit.
Thus, stewardship is about far more than supporting the church financially, however important this may be. Real, basic stewardship is about living our whole lives in faithfulness to our created purpose as human being. We do this by giving to Christian ministries, to be sure, but also by the way we function at work, by the way we treat our neighbors, by how we vote, by how we relate to others, by our wise care for the earth, and by innumerable others acts of faithful stewardship.
The more we reflect upon the majesty of God in creation, and the more we take to heart whom God has created us to be, the more we will live each moment of each day in response to our high calling as divine stewards.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you hear the words "stewardship" or "steward," what comes to mind? Do you think of yourself as someone entrusted with care for God's creation? What would it mean for you to live as a steward in the context of your work? your family? your neighborhood? your school? your church? your city? How might our stewardship impact the way we think about the world?
PRAYER: O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
The more I reflect upon your greatness, the more I am astounded that you would think about me. It's even more amazing that you have chosen to make me a steward of your creation and redemption. I get to participate in your work of caring for and redeeming the cosmos. How incredible!
O Lord, may I be a faithful steward for you. Help me to honor you in all the places where you have given me influence or authority. May I serve you well at work and at home. May I represent you accurately in my relationships and in my business transactions. May I use well the money you have entrusted to me, being careful in spending it and generous in giving it. Teach me, Lord, to be a true steward every single day.
O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!