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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stewardship

How do you respond to that word?  If you are like most church members, you think about giving, the yearly pledge card.  I am getting a different sense of that word from Ephesians.
Stewardship is not about money...  Thoughts at DTTB.

Ephesians 3:2 is where this started for me.  Paul states that his stewardship of God’s grace was given to him for the sake of the Ephesian believers.  I looked at the other places this word shows up in the New Testament; nine times:
  • Luke 16:2
  • Luke 16:3
  • Luke 16:4
  • 1 Cor 9:17
  • Eph 1:10
  • Eph 3:2
  • Eph 3:9
  • Col 1:25
  • 1 Tim 1:4
Reading through those and interesting picture of stewardship emerges.  The sense seems to be, for lack of a better term, “job,” that has been given to one who is to care for that “job” in line with the desires of the one who gave the “job.”  Further, the “job” has been given for the benefit of “others,” in this case the Ephesian believers.

This idea of stewardship in the context of Paul seems to have taken on the management or the administration of the ministry of the Gospel.  In the context of Ephesians 3 here the management is on behalf of others.  We are in a sense controlled by the one who gives the stewardship.  Thus the reference to the Love of Christ controlling Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:14ff.  This seems to be in line with the thread of “entrusting” in 1st and 2nd Timothy.  The Gospel was entrusted to Paul and he in turn entrusted it to Timothy who was commanded to entrust it to faithful men.  The stewardship is not voluntary as per Luke 16:2 - 4 and 1 Corinthians 9:17.  We are expected to “steward” with consequences if the “stewardship” is not carried out with integrity.

So stewardship seems to be not the optional yearly pledge we experience in our churches.  Rather it is the intentional, committed, administration of the gifts and abilities with which God has equipped us for His specific purpose for our lives.
That is a much bigger deal.

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