MORE THAN A BUDGET
Have you ever stayed at an Air B&B?
Turning the key, unlocking the door, and stepping into someone else’s home when they aren’t there can feel weird, like you’re trespassing.
In your head, you know it’s okay to be there. You are guests.
Yet still, you never feel completely “at home.” You find yourself being extra careful with everything you touch. You take extra care not to avoid making a mess. You may feel like just tiptoeing around the place!
Why? Because we become superconscious that we are a guest there. The home doesn’t belong to you or me; it belongs to someone else. It is someone else’s property.
This is the essence of stewardship.
Stewardship is living life with a heart recognition that your money, your possessions - even your body - do not belong to you.
Wise stewardship is the key to living a life that God blesses.
If I can shoot straight with you for a moment, here’s the bottom line:
This can sound harsh, but it is actually God’s mercy in action.
There are many Christ followers that God simply cannot bless with great wealth because He knows it would destroy them.
Few people understand that abundance is a far tougher test of character than poverty.
How do we know that God looks for faithful stewardship before providing more resources?
This truth is at the heart of one of Jesus’ longest and most detailed parables.
Managing Another Person’s Stuff
This parable gets to the heart of stewardship.
Each worker was entrusted with the Master’s resources.
The Master did not play favorites; he gave to each worker “according to his ability to manage” (verse 15).
In other words, these three workers already had a track record of how skillfully they’d handled and cared for the things the Master had entrusted to them previously.
Think about this. Every story Jesus told revealed deeper spiritual truths that expose our hearts.
Perhaps the reason you haven’t been given more is that God knows you can’t yet handle it.
It’s kind of like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men putting it plainly: “You can’t handle more” (Although God isn’t angry like Jack Nicholson was!).
I’m Proud of You
This is why I’m proud of you for going through this New You study guide!
I’m giving you biblical and practical keys to becoming a wiser, more skillful handler of the Master’s resources.
As you trust the process, you will be entrusted with more. Faithful stewards always are.
You Are Already a Steward
You don’t decide to become a steward. You already are one!
God has entrusted you with a wealth of precious resources - whether you’ve recognized or embraced the role or not.
As we’ve already seen, everything we have actually belongs to God.
The only unanswered question is this:
Stewards Protect and Expand
Did you know that only 3% of Americans have a written budget?
Many people evaluate the quality of their stewardship based solely on their budgeting discipline and debt levels.
It’s true that good stewards live on a budget and are careful with accumulating unhealthy debt. But being a wise steward of a great king actually means bringing increase to that ruler’s kingdom, just as the steward did in Jesus’ parable.
You see, when it’s all said and done, and we’re giving an account of how we lived our lives, it ultimately won’t be about money. It will be about souls. It will be about lives impacted. Money matters because poor stewards of all God has entrusted to them don’t bring in crease to their Lord’s kingdom.
On the eve of sending the Israelite tribes into the land of promise to take possession of it, Moses told the people,
“Remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers…” ( Deuteronomy 8:18)
These words are still true for you and me today.
God gives power to acquire wealth so that He may reach more people far from God with the message of Jesus (the New Covenant).
You can’t bring your tithe to your local church and you cannot be generous with above-and-beyond offerings to mission organizations, church planting efforts or Christian humanitarian groups if you’re drowning in debt and living paycheck to paycheck.
Good stewards protect and expand the resources of Another.
Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 says that after the Master was gone a long time, the Master returned and settled accounts with them (Matthew 25:19).
I’m sure the stewards in Jesus’ parable would have been tempted to wonder if perhaps the Master wasn’t coming back at all.
It would have been easy to wonder if perhaps there would be no settling of accounts.
Or even to start thinking that the resources entrusted to them were now really theirs by default.
Yet the Master did return.
Our Master will return.
Paul reminded the believers in Corinth of the future day that awaits us all in Romans 14:10-12.
The day of our face-to-face meeting with our Master could come at any moment. His arrival is not scheduled in your day planner and it is not predictable like a weather forecast.
All I know is that when that day arrives, I want to hear the same words that greeted the ears of the wise steward:
Here is the Simple, Winning Formula
God’s not hard.
He sowed something precious in you and He doesn’t demand some set or exorbitant rate of return.
He just asks you to recognize that you are His and to be faithful.
That means to exercise faith.
Trusting God and following His instructions as a wise steward is simple and always wins.
I think you’re ready for the secret formula now.
Lean in because this is THE game changer!
Write This Down and Own It
Every time you receive your paycheck or a financial gift, the wise thing to do is:
Live on the remaining 80%
That’s the simple, winning formula to doing things God’s way.
Trust Him with your finances and with your life.
For He is trustworthy and will never lead you astray.
REFLECTION + ACTION STEPS FORWARD
1) What impacted you the most in today’s session?
2) How did Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 connect to your life?
Which steward have you been most like up until now?
3) God’s grace means that it is never too late to become who you might have been. You can begin a fresh start as a wise steward TODAY!
Step One is to get a written, monthly budget.
Download our free tools:
I’m Proud of You
Together, we are making progress!
In the next session, we are going to start working our simple, winning formula in Baby Steps.
It may feel scary at first, but trust me, once you begin doing things God’s way, you WILL be on the pathway to stress-free finances!