A “steward” was an administrator of the affairs (the household and property) of a person of means. Tlie steward’s duties usually included such responsibilities as the oversight of week, household finances, children of the family, flocks and herds, and the tilling of the fields. The most common New Testament word is “okonomos” meaning “ruler or manager of a house” (Luke 12:42).

Jesus used the word “stewardship” many times in His teaching (especially in the Parables), In order to emphasize man’s privilege and his responsibility before God. There are several concepts included in the idea of stewardship:

(1) The word “stewardship” implies that God Is the Owner of all things. The Psalmist once declared, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1).

(2) Stewardship further includes the truth that man is a trustee (a guardian) of what he has, and of what he can be (2 Timothy 1:14).

(3) The word also implies that man must give an account for the use he makes of what is entrusted to him. Jesus said we must give an account of our stewardship (Luke 16:2).

Concerning the stewardship of money, we must remember that God has given the principle of stewardship in order to help us conquer the sins of selfishness and covetousness. The great Christian antidote for the poison of greed – is the grace of giving. We are to give individually (1 Cor. 16:2), willingly (2 Cor. 8:12), cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7), systematically (1 Cor. 16:2), proportionately (1 Cor. 16:2), intelligently (1 John 4:1), and bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6). There are rewards for liberal givers – materially (Luke 6:38), spiritually (Luke 16:11), and eternally (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

Some think of stewardship as a concept that relates only to budgets and finances, but stewardship involves a recognition that all of life belongs to God. This includes a consecration of money, time, and talents to God. The New Testament also applies the principle of stewardship to ministers who are to guard the faith (1 Cor. 4:1), and to all Christians in general who are to exercise their God-given gifts in service rendered to others (1 Peter 4:10).

–Harold S. Martin
March/April 1977