Lesson 31: Stewardship & Expansion of the Church | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 31: Stewardship & Expansion of the Church

Ministry growth, or expansion , takes place as local churches engage in edification and evangelism. Such growth requires the management of the church’s physical and human resources. Another word for such management is “ stewardship .” In this lesson, we will examine:

1. The foundation of stewardship

2. The profile of a steward

3. An example of stewardship

4. The importance of stewardship

I. The Foundation of Stewardship

Stewardship is based on two foundational principles:

A. God is the Creator and Owner of all things.

Since God created the universe, He owns it and everything in it. This is not only true of rocks, trees, and animals, but also of human beings.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.   Psalm 24:1 2

B. Mankind does not truly own anything.

When people speak of their “possessions,” they are really speaking inaccurately. Everything that a person “owns” will be left behind for someone else. All that a person “possesses” has been loaned to him by God.

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?   1 Corinthians 4:7

II. The Profile of a Steward

A. A steward is given a trust (responsibility) by another.

Stewards were common in biblical times. A steward was expected to oversee the affairs of someone else. The word “steward” literally means “one who

manages a household .” A stewardship is that which has been entrusted to the care of a manager. A good synonym for stewardship is administration . The New Testament often compares believers with stewards. God has given believers tasks to accomplish and the resources needed to accomplish them. Christ illustrated this truth in many parables.

Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?   Luke 12:42

B. A steward is to administrate (oversee) that trust.

Believers are to use all the resources entrusted to them by God to accomplish their appointed tasks.

It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.   Luke 12:43 44

[In other words, believers are to manage/administrate/oversee everything God has entrusted to them. E.g., Joseph.]

C. A steward is accountable for the performance of his task.

A time is coming [at the Judgment Seat of Christ] when God will demand an accounting for how His affairs have been managed. This accounting will be based on the following principle: the greater the privilege , the greater the responsibility .

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.   Luke 12:48

D. The resources of the steward

Many believers incorrectly think that they must give God a portion of their resources. However, true stewardship is based upon the realization that all one has belongs to God.

1. Believers are stewards of their time .

How we use our time is a reflection of our priorities. Every second of every day must be used wisely.

Be very careful, then, how you live  not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.   Ephesians 5:15 16

[Obviously this does not mean that we can’t spend time resting, relaxing, and just plain goofing off. But it does mean that we are accountable for how we spend such time. We should not simply “waste” large chunks of time doing nothing profitable, e.g. watching 3-4 videos, playing video games, “vegging out,” etc. We are to “redeem the time.”]

2. Believers are stewards of their talents .

Every believer has abilities which God wants to use to accomplish His purposes. God expects every believer to use his talents to enhance the ministry of his local church.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.   Romans 12:6 8

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.   1 Peter 4:10

[How has God “wired” you? Where are your talents, abilities, gifts? This is where God wants you to serve in the church.]

3. Believers are stewards of their treasures .

The New Testament strongly emphasizes the proper use of possessions by believers. Many passages warn about their improper use.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.   1 Timothy 6:6 10

James 5:1 6 identifies several of the sins associated with the love of money:

a. Placing one’s trust in that which is temporal (5:1 3)

b. Hoarding wealth rather than using it for good (5:3)

c. Using dishonest means to gain wealth (5:4)

d. Living in luxury (5:5)

e. Practicing self indulgence (5:5)

[Notice that a luxurious, self-indulgent life-style is wrong for the Christian. Why do you think we say this? Because from God’s perspective, there are more important uses of money than luxury and comfort. The hard part is determining the proper standard of living. Most people increase their standard as their income increases (if it does). Instead, one should determine what he needs and use the extra to support various ministries, programs, charities, etc. Few actually do this.]

4. Believers are stewards of a message .

Paul considered the message that he preached to be his greatest responsibility.

I have become [the church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.   Colossians 1:25

2 Timothy 2:1 2 indicates that the stewardship of this trust is the task of every generation of believers.

III. An Example of Stewardship

One of God’s requirements for stewards in this dispensation is the support of the local church. In 1 Corinthians 16:1 4 and 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul discusses an offering that was being taken for famine relief for churches in Palestine. These passages give us important instructions concerning giving.

A. The time of giving

Offerings were to be collected on Sunday .

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.   1 Corinthians 16:2

The significance of this fact is two fold: First, money given for ministry was to be channeled through the local church , which assembled on Sunday. Second, since giving was to be done while the church was assembled, it should be viewed as part of worship .

B. The place of giving

As noted above, offerings were to be taken to the local church, which was responsible for the administration of the funds. It was local churches that managed the funds collected by Paul. Paul took great pains to ensure the wise use of those funds, both in reality and in perception . In other words, Paul was careful to work under the authority of local churches to avoid the perception or accusation of misusing funds.

And we are sending along with [Titus] the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.   2 Corinthians 8:18 21

[Be very cautious about supporting parachurch organizations. Strictly speaking, they are not biblically based (God’s program is the church, not the parachurch), and they may not use the money they receive wisely, as evidenced by the recent TV evangelist scandals.]

C. The attitude of giving

1. Stewardship giving is voluntary .

New Testament giving is not a matter of law . Rather, it flows from a heart which recognizes that all that we have and are belongs to God.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.   2 Corinthians 9:7

[Interesting note: The Greek word for “cheerful” comes from the root “hilarion,” as in “hilarious.” ]

2. Stewardship giving is a privilege .

Paul originally did not ask the churches in Macedonia to give to the offering for the Palestinian churches because he knew that the Macedonians were extremely poor. However, when they heard of the need, they pleaded with Paul to be included. Even though in great need themselves, they considered giving to be a privilege.

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.   2 Corinthians 8:1-4

3. Stewardship giving should be done cheerfully .

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

D. The amount of giving

1. Stewards should give according to their income .

God wants believers to worship Him with the wealth and talents that they currently possess, no matter how great or small. The widow with her small copper coins (Mark 12:41 44) is a prime example of giving that pleases the Lord.

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.   1 Corinthians 16:2

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.   2 Corinthians 8:12

2. Stewards should give as much as possible .

The New Testament does not teach that a specific percentage of one’s income is to be given to the Lord. The Old Testament tithe (ten percent) can only serve as a starting point. The sacrificial Macedonians are once again an excellent example:

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.   2 Corinthians 8:3

[Actually, the Law required that OT believers give considerably more than just 10% (they were required to give almost 25%). Besides what was required, they gave their sacrifices and often free-will offerings too. Nevertheless, 10% is a good place for the believer to start. One should give at least that much.]

IV. The Importance of Stewardship

Stewardship is important for at least two reasons:

A. Stewardship brings glory to God.

1. Stewardship is an act of faithfulness .

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.   1 Corinthians 4:2

2. Stewardship is an expression of Christ likeness .

Paul urged the Corinthians to give liberally in order to imitate the supreme act of giving, the self-sacrifice of Christ.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.   2 Corinthians 8:9

B. Stewardship accomplishes the work of the ministry.

God has determined to accomplish His will in this dispensation by entrusting His work to believers. Apart from the commitment of God’s people to be faithful stewards, the work of the ministry cannot take place.

1. Stewardship of time and talents provides human resources for the ministry.

Believers must be willing to dedicate their lives to the work of the ministry. This is one of the many reasons why God has saved us.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.   Ephesians 2:10

2. Stewardship of treasures provides physical resources for the ministry.

The New Testament gives specific directions concerning the use of the financial resources of the church. They should be used:

a. To meet the needs of pastors and their families

Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.   1 Corinthians 9:13 14

[The Bible also says that those who labor in the Word are worthy of “double honor,” very likely a reference to their pay.]

b. To meet the needs of missionaries

For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.   Philippians 4:16 18

c. To meet the needs of others , especially other believers

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.   Galatians 6:10

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Stewardship is based upon the fact that God is the Creator and Owner of all things.

2. A steward is one who is responsible to manage a trust given by another. Believers are responsible to properly manage the time, talents, treasures, and message they have been given by God.

3. Believers should voluntarily and cheerfully give as much as they are able to their local church each Sunday.

4. Stewardship brings glory to God and accomplishes the work of the ministry.

Learning to Live It

1. A man in your church has a job that pays extremely well. He can easily afford to drive a Mercedes and live in a $1,000,000 home. Would it be right for him to have such a car and home? Why or why not?

no; He does not need them–they are luxuries. As Christians we should not live in posh luxury. Instead, we should provide for what we need and then for the needs of the ministry and the needs of others.

2. A church in town makes a big deal over the number of missionaries it supports. The pastoral staff, however, is struggling to make ends meet and the church facilities are in desperate need of repair. Yet, the church continues to take on new missionaries. What scriptural responsibilities has this church overlooked?

its responsibility to meet the needs of its pastors and to make its building presentable; Only after meeting these obligations should this church consider taking on more missionaries. Perhaps if they did this, the pastor would work harder or better, and better facilities would help the church grow, so the church could support even more missionaries. A solid mission program is based on a solid home church.


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