He wasn’t sure what he should do, so he buried the money. His master had left town. Instead of getting that time off, he was given a talent and expected to invest it well. He had plenty of ideas, but they were all so risky. His master was a harsh man, even immoral, and the last thing he wanted to do was lose the money. So he played it safe and buried it. Upon his master’s return, he had to give an account. He confessed his lack of action, hoping the master would be pleased…after all, he was giving him the same talent back so nothing was lost. However, he was taken aback by his master’s response: “You wicked and slothful servant!” His complete inaction was regarded as wicked and lazy, and so he was cast out (Matthew 25:14-30).
Every single person has gifts, talents, and abilities the Lord has given us. In addition, every Christian to varying degrees and amounts has money to invest in the Kingdom. As Christians, we are called to be good stewards in every phase of our lives. It’s this topic that we will consider in this article, but before we do, let’s take a look back at what we’ve discussed in this series on the spiritual disciplines already. First, we considered Bible intake through hearing and reading. Then, we looked at Bible intake by meditation and memorization. Third, we walked through the importance of prayer in the Christian life. Fourth, we considered our engagement with evangelism. Fifth, we explored the discipline of serving in the Christian life. Today, as I’ve mentioned, we will look at the importance of stewardship in our Christian lives.
What is Stewardship?
We often use the word ‘stewardship,’ in regards to money. While stewardship does include our use of money, the word is more general. In the dictionary, stewardship is defined as: “the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate…the responsible overseeing and protecting of something considered worth caring for and preserving.”
So, if I am a steward, I am managing or overseeing something that doesn’t belong to me. I’m not the owner, but I have the responsibility to make sure it’s being handled properly. If I’m the steward of a farm, I don’t own the animals, equipment, or land, but I take care of it as if I am the owner. If I’m the steward of someone’s money, I decide how the money is spent.
Our Lord owns everything. Jesus calls Christians to be stewards of what is His, and we are responsible for how we manage it. In the beginning, God created everything and put man in the garden to “work it and keep it.” There is much in our lives the Lord calls us to steward. With that said, this article will focus specifically on our stewardship of time and money.
Stewards of Time
It doesn’t matter how much money you have, where you are from, what color you are, or what your job is, we all have the same amount of time. You can’t buy or borrow more time from others, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change how much time you have in a day.
So, if we’ve been given a specific amount of time, then we must be intentional and wise with how we use the time God gives us. Just like everything else in our life, we will give an account for how we spend our time (Romans 14:12). In Ephesians 4:15-16 we are instructed: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Knowing that our time on earth is a vapor (James 4:14), let us consider how we spend our days and be careful not to waste time. Using our time wisely does not necessarily mean turning into a busybody, as rest and enjoyment are gifts from the Lord. However, let us be careful that we are not taking a blessing from the Lord and turning it into a meaningless time-waster.
For example, I enjoy watching TV. I like to rest from a busy day by watching a funny sitcom or well-done documentary. These times can be restful and even quality time spent with my wife. However, TV can easily turn into a time-waster if I’m not careful. Hours can be spent in front of the TV while neglecting quality time with family, spiritual disciplines, or other responsibilities. For you, it may not be TV, but it could be some other hobby given too much priority in your day.
Knowing if we are wasting time can be difficult. Scripture doesn’t tell us how much TV is too much or give us a time limit for our hobbies. As we consider these things, it will come down to seeking wisdom through prayer and God’s Word. It will require us being honest with ourselves as to how we are spending our time and asking God if we are honoring him every moment.
Stewards of Money
Jesus says something stunning in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” It might seem like our use of money has little bearing on our spiritual life, but Jesus teaches that the way we spend our money is actually a window into our heart. We can look at our spending and see what we truly value.
Dr. Whitney argues the same point: “But as much as anything else, the reason use of money and the things it buys is one of the best indicators of spiritual maturity and Godliness is that we exchange such a great part of our lives for it. Because we invest most of our days working in exchange for money, there is a very real sense in which our money represents us. Therefore, how we use it expresses who we are, what our priorities are, and what’s in our hearts” (Spiritual Disciplines in the Christian Life, 140).
We can say we love God and his church, but at the end of the day, the way we spend our money will show us what we truly value.
Scripture teaches that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). God doesn’t just ask us to give, he desires that we would do so willfully. We can give without doing so willfully or cheerfully. Whitney helpfully explains, “There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, ‘I have to’; duty giving says, ‘I ought to’; thanksgiving says, ‘I want to'” (148).
When we give cheerfully, we are showing where our affections are truly placed. If my affections are for my money or my stuff, then the last thing I want to do is give it away. If my affections are for the Lord, I can give freely because my joy and happiness are in him and not my money. If we are ruled by a “love for money” (1 Tim. 6:10), then we might give grudgingly out of duty or legalism, but we won’t be a cheerful giver.
Our money, like everything else, actually belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 reads, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” The money in my account has been given to me by the Lord to steward, and I will give an account.
All of our time and money belong to the Lord. We shouldn’t think that God simply wants a small portion of our time on Sunday or a small percentage of our money. Rather, we are to prayerfully consider how we spend each minute and every dollar that the Lord entrusts to us. May we be good stewards of our time and money for the glory of God!
- What does your use of time say about your desire for the Lord?
- How can you spend your time better? Do you have anything that is wasting time in your life?
- What does your use of money say about your walk with the Lord?
- How can you spend your money in a way that is more honoring to the Lord? What’s one practical change you can make right now?
Next week we’ll look at the last Spiritual discipline in our series: fasting.
Sources: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney.