The biblical foundation of Christian stewardship traces back to the Garden of Eden. The first couple was given the mandate to subdue the earth and manage it for the Heavenly Father. Psalms 24:1 explains that the “earth is the Lord’s”-everything in it-the world and all who live in it”. We have nothing that does not come from Him.
A steward manages the possessions of another – he does not own them himself, but is accountable for how the Master’s resources are used.
Those who have made a commitment to God’s service are therefore responsible to manage their God given gifts. Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us it is God who gives us the ability to produce or manage any wealth or good that we acquire. Luke 12:48 confirms “…from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”.
In the parable of the Talents, before leaving, the Lord committed his goods and property to his stewards. He gave one talent to one, two talents to another, and five to still another, according to their abilities. When he returned, he called for an accounting. The one with two talents had gained two more; the one with the five talents had gained other five. The Lord said to each, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things." The servant with one talent returned it, but he had failed to use it. The Lord said “Thou art a slothful and wicked servant!” and the servant was punished for lack of faith. The one who had less ability was given less opportunity than the one who had more ability, but those who used their talents to full capacity were especially pleasing to the Lord.
Each of us were also entrusted with goods and talents by God and one may have more opportunities granted him than to another. One person might be a good writer; another a good speaker; another talented in business, music or poetry. Others may be good at all of these things. The one good at all three would have thereby three times as much responsibility. Our time, energy, influence, and abilities represent our individual opportunities for service to God’s glory.
In the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16:1-9, Jesus emphasized the fact that a wise steward would be alert to his own future welfare. If a debtor could not pay one hundred per cent, but could pay fifty, it would be wise for the steward to keep the future good will of the debtor, and let him pay what he could. This steward was commended by his lord for his shrewdness in taking this course, even though he had previously been unfaithful to him. The lessons is clear that we should be generous in all of our affairs.
The Christian steward has the additional responsibility to provide for the concrete and spiritual needs of their natural family. “If any provide not for his own, and especially those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."(1 Timothy 5:8) This injunction can also be applied to members of our extended families and church fellowship. The same principle applies to humanity in general. "As we have opportunity let us do good unto all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10). God does not intend that His people shall be unnecessarily burdensome to each other, but each should feel a responsibility in respect to others and gladly lend a helping hand to strengthen, encourage and bless, "building each other up in the most holy faith." (Jude 20).
In Old Testament times, the Israelites were required to tithe 10% of their goods for the tabernacle arrangement and the common good. The New Testament does not designate a set amount for giving, but suggests that we give as we are able (I Corinthians 16:2). The early church shared all things in common and provided for one another according to their abilities (Acts 4 & 5). Offerings should be rendered with pure motives and an attitude of worship. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give; not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
A faithful steward will be on the lookout for everything that represents the Master's interests, as carefully as he would his own, using every power for increasing the entrusted resources. A faithful steward recognizes his responsibility to “love his neighbor as himself” and “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful."–1 COR. 4:2.