Stewardship

The subject of stewardship is a difficult one for me to write about because I am often a very poor steward. Yet again and again the Gospel challenges us to improve in this area of our spiritual life. One text that highlights stewardship for me is the story of the rich man and poor Lazarus. The simple moral of the story is that the rich man is condemned not because he is rich but because he does not use his wealth to alleviate the sufferings of a man outside his own door.

The rich man, like each one of us, was a Steward. He had been given something, in his case wealth, and he was entrusted with it. So it was his refusal to help the poor with his money that was according to Jesus poor stewardship.

Of course Stewardship is not defined simply in terms of wealth, or money. Stewardship is a term used in the Church to describe all and any of the gifts we have been given. Saint Paul is 1 Corinthians 12.7 argues that, “…The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”
The message is that we are all given something, some type of gift or even many. And this gift is to be used to serve all, not just ourselves. This understanding is something we work on throughout our lives, it is something we teach our children and hope they understand and do.

In another place the Lord Jesus in the parable of the Talents says that some people are given more talents than others. However the number of gifts is not what is important in the parable, rather what we do with them, whether we have five, or three or even just one we are expected to use the gifts and increase them in service to others. The same holds true today. We are given gifts and then left to do with them whatever we wish. Yet at some point there is an accounting, a reckoning. We will be asked, “What have we done with the gifts God has given us?”

Saint Paul in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians (4.11-16), highlights the spirit of stewardship, he wrote, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [d]saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the [e]knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature [f]which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 [g]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness [h]in deceitful scheming; 15 but [i]speaking the truth in love, [j]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together [k]by what every joint supplies, according to the [l]proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

We place an emphasis on Stewardship because Stewardship is a spiritual discipline. It leads us as a parish and it leads each one of us into the fullness of Christ. If we do not learn to be good Stewards then we will limit our development as Christians. Stewardship is part of our spiritual growth. This is why I am writing about it. As we grow in our understanding of stewardship we grow as Christians. For in this view of life we see all things as gifts of God given to us for the service to all.