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  • Writer's pictureTrent Murray

Stewardship & Service: Productivity Through the Spiritual Disciplines Pt.6


Stewardship


Around the church, the word stewardship often evokes imagery of one thing: giving money. However as our students were challenged this week, the responsibility of stewardship is far more than our pocketbooks or Apple wallets. In 1 Corinthians 4 the Apostle Paul writes "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" Simply put, all that we have comes from the hand of God and we have nothing to boast about.


I believe we need to pair this truth with a sobering verse Romans 14:12 "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." These are the two pillars of stewardship. All we have has been given to us by God, and we will have to answer for what we do with it. How can we steward what God has given us to live a productive and fruitful life for the kingdom?


Time

Time is our most precious resource. We cannot buy more of it. On our deathbed we will not desire more dollars in the account, more bedrooms in our home, another set of letters after our name or trophies on a shelf. We may desire more time, though. Sadly currency can't attain it. Job 14 teaches us that our days and months are with the Lord and not ourselves. He determines the time and space in which we live.


In "The Lord of the Rings" as Frodo tells Gandalf “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” Gandalf wisely responds: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”


We may not live the same number of days, you and I. However each of us have 24 hours today. As busy as you feel, you don't have any second less than I do or the most brilliant people in history have had. What are you doing with your time? Are you stewarding it well?


Energy

We are finite creatures. We wear out! Isaiah 40 speaks of even the youth growing weary and tired. God has given us our being and our mind and we are to steward our energy well. We cannot do everything in this life, so choose wisely what we spend our energy on. If we have no energy for our family, or for the work of God's kingdom, we have spent our energy in all of the wrong places.


I know what some of you are thinking, I have to work hard at my job, how am I supposed to have energy for all of these other things? The Apostle Paul in Colossians has a helpful insight:


"For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."(Col.1:29)

Because we wear down we cannot possibly have enough energy to do all of the good we are called to in this life. But Our God supernaturally works his energy within us so that we can be vivified to be fervent in our work even past our normal human breaking points. Serve Christ with all of your energy and when we are running on empty we can ask the Lord to give us the energy we need to do the most good we can. Listen to the leading of the Spirit as to when it is time to rest, and rest intentionally in the finished work of Christ.


Ability

Each of us are good at something. If you believe you are not good at anything, I would argue it is because you just haven't found it yet. Once it is clear where you are gifted you must realize that the talent you have acquired (even if you have worked diligently to hone the skill) is a gift from God and something you will have to answer for. When we give an account of our life we will answer for exactly how we used our abilities that he blessed us with.


From a spiritual perspective, each believer has been given at least one spiritual gift. These gifts are given with the sole purpose of building up and blessing the church. If God has blessed you with a gift it is not for you to hoard to yourself or for you to use for your own selfish gain. You are to steward the gifts and talents he has given you to serve the Bride of Christ and to expand the kingdom of God on the Earth. How are you stewarding the gifts and talents that the Lord has given you?


Possessions

This one makes sense to us alongside our money. All of our resources are given to us by God and for God. Your car, your house, your assets, these are not in existence to serve you only, but to be a blessing to others. And stewardship doesn't always mean "giving" You don't have to sell your house to steward it. You can utilize it as a tool for kingdom growth by sharing it with others, inviting them into your home to share their story and to share with them the story of God. You can use your vehicles as a blessing to others when they are in need or in a bind.


Get creative with this and live open handed. We don't have full ownership over anything we think we own. All that we have is the Lord's and he has entrusted it to us. Don't have white knuckles clinching your hands around all that God has given you, rather trust in the God who gives and takes away and believe that he has blessed you with all that you have and "own". How can you steward the things that God has given you in the days ahead?


We don't have full ownership over anything we think we own. All that we have is the Lord's and he has entrusted it to us.

Service


I don't typically see service paired with stewardship among materials on spiritual disciplines, but I contend that service is effectively our stewardship toward other people. We are not called just to steward what we have for the Kingdom of the Lord and to bless our families, we are called to steward all that God has given us for the good of others. This is at the heart of biblical productivity, to bear fruit in our own lives and live as a blessing to others.


"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." - Philippians 2:3


As a selfish person, this verse convicts me every time I read it. It is so easy to become one track minded and self-centered in our stewardship: How am I going to use what God gave me to fuel my mission? How can I accomplish my dreams with the time, energy, ability, and possessions God has provided? How am I giving to the church? How am I saving for the future and being smart with my money and wise with my time? How am I going to bless my wife and my kids? If we are feeling extremely generous we may ask "How am I going to bless my closest and dearest friends?".


But what if we applied Philippians 2:3 to our stewardship? God has given us time and energy and ability and possessions to be a blessing to others; to count others as more significant than ourselves. There is freedom to be found when you are not the center of the story. Our Lord said it is more blessed to give than to receive, and he wasn't just talking about around the holidays when we are buying presents for others and most often quote this verse.


"Service is effectively our stewardship toward other people. There is freedom to be found when you are not the center of the story"

"Control the controllables"

This concept smacked me across the face last week as I pondered the implications of stewardship and service. I know most of us have heard this idea of controlling the controllable things in our lives and not stressing about the things that we cannot control. It occurred to me that stewardship and service is the most effective way to live out this helpful principle.


I cannot control how others treat me or give me their time, energy, ability, or possessions, but I can control how I steward my own toward others. If my happiness is dependent upon how others serve me and give me their time and energy, or how others bless me with their abilities and possessions, I will live a frustrated life believing the entire world revolves around me. Yet I am the only one who thinks this way and no one will be meeting my expectations for how they steward their things.


But if I control what I can control: how I spend my time by working with the energy God is working within me, using my abilities and possessions to bless others, this is where I would find that it is more blessed to give than receive in all of life. We can be happy in every circumstance if we find ways to bless others instead of focusing on ourselves. As we have said, this is the heartbeat of biblical productivity that we would use all that we have for the glory of God and the good of others.




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