Day 1: Learning Stewardship from Jesus
The coffee bar near the university was a little more crowded than usual, but Josh found a seat in the corner. As the students talked and laughed, Josh reminisced about his college years. Life seemed so simple then. The future was wide open, and money was not an issue.
Josh couldn’t help but think how much life had changed. He wondered how he was going to dig out of the hole in which he and Elaine found themselves. Josh didn’t want to become one of those people who were unable to pay their bills, but he was getting close. Because of an increase in interest rates, his mortgage payment had just been adjusted by a couple of hundred dollars more per month. The credit-card balances they swore would be paid off before the 0 percent interest offer ended were still there, now with a looming double-digit rate. He didn’t even want to think how many more years of lease payments they had on their cars.
Josh and Elaine were also wrestling with the decision of whether they could pay for their daughters cheerleading trip. They didn’t want to be the types of parents who limited their children’s dreams. “Man, I need some more money,” Josh mumbled to himself Before leaving, he went to the counter and asked, “Are you guys hiring?”
Josh walked out of the coffee bar with application in hand and a lingering sense of embarrassment. Did he really just ask for this?
Do you agree that Josh needs more money to solve his financial problems? Or do you see other solutions in his story? What about your own financial situation? This week you will discover how the principles of the simple life apply to the crazy world of finances. The Bible has a lot to say about this subject, and it may surprise you to learn how much clarity it can bring to the way you spend and manage money.
Why We Hate Finances
Finances can seem like such a dirty word. It always carries baggage. For many of us it’s like bitter taste in the mouth, reminding us of previous or current money problems. We tell ourselves there are more important things in life than money. Yet we still find it difficult to ignore the abundance of teachings in Scripture about finance. Money was one of Jesus’ most frequent topics of discussion. We hate finances, but we know they are important in our life’s journey.
Here are some quotations from the respondents to our surveys.
° “I would like to have complete financial freedom without worrying about any money matters.”
° “We need to pay down a lot of debt.”
° “I would love to know that my kids and l would have no worries when it comes to money in the future.”
° “l wish l could afford to quit my second job and spend more time with the family.”
45% don’t have enough income for their lifestyles.
50% say finances cause strain in their marriages.
60% indicates that finances are causing significant stress in their families.
For many of us, money is a ball and chain that limits our life’s movement. We feel that if we could just get a few extra zeros added to our bank account, then maybe the weight would start to lighten. Those who have had financial trouble can attest to the amount of stress it places on them and their families. What do we do? Which bill do we pay? How are we going to pay for the kids’ education? What’s going to happen to us?
List any symptoms of financial stress in your life.
What do you see as the greatest financial need in your life?
The complexity of finances doesn’t help-credit scores, amortization schedules, interest rates, total cost of funds, budgeting, stocks, mutual funds, IRAs, and investment strategies.
It’s also easy to get lost in a fog of confusing, conflicting messages about money. Everyone–from banks to retailers to credit-card companies–seems to know what our money should be used for except us.
What are we trying to accomplish with our money? As with our time and relationships, we need clarity about our finances.
Making Finances Simple
Let’s try to bring clarity to our situation by examining a story Jesus told about a master and his three servants.
Read Matthew 25:14-30.
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
What were the masters expectations of his servants?
What did the servants do with their money?
The first servant turned five talents into _______________
The second turned two talents into ________________
What did the third servant do?
Jesus’ story provides clarity in our fiscal haze. Finding financial clarity requires a big idea, an all-encompassing direction from which we can make monetary decisions: Should I buy this? Should I invest in that? Should I pay this off first? Can I splurge on this? There are a lot of questions out there, each with their own nuances. And just one
idea offers answers for them all: stewardship. It’s the only concept that provides clarity for our finances.
Based on Jesus’ story, how would you define stewardship?
Much like the servants in Jesus’ story, a steward is traditionally someone who takes care of another’s household. A steward manages the domestic affairs so that the master can focus on whatever he deems most important. The master therefore places a great deal of trust in the steward, whom the master expects to act in his best interest with or without his oversight. So stewardship consists of managing the obligations given to the steward.
By the very nature of the word, stewardship requires some type of higher authority. It involves submission to a greater good. lt is denying yourself and exalting another. lt is commitment to the well-being of another, knowing their happiness will result in your happiness.
Ultimately, Jesus’ story addresses stewardship on a much larger scale than money. It’s about God calling all of us to take care of His things while we are on this brief journey in life. And though this week is about money, the concept of stewardship reaches far beyond the boundaries of our bank account. Everything we have and everything we are belong to the one who created us. Our entire being demands stewardship.
Why does God want us to be guardians of His money? So that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. For God to give the title of steward to us, His own creation, is remarkable. In an incredible twist, God, perfect and righteous, has chosen us fallible and sometimes idiotic humans to watch over His resources until He returns. Knowing
our imperfections, He still put together a human portfolio in which He would invest to accomplish His goals.
Read I Timothy 6:10
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (I Tim 6:10)
What’s the correct responses.
Money is the root of evil.
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Craving money leads people away from God and brings suffering.
Money in itself is not evil. When properly utilized, it can produce all kinds of good in our world. On the other hand, money makes a poor god. If we fail to be good stewards of the money God gives us, many of our financial decisions reduce the potential impact we can have on this earth. They can diminish our fulfillment as Gods agents of change.
Jesus said, “Collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:20-21). Stewardship is not a mathematical formula or a list of do’s and don’ts. Stewardship is about the heart. It’s about waking up every morning ready to listen to what God wants us to do for the day. It’s about wanting to take care of what God has given us while we are on this little blue planet. It’s about acknowledging that His plan is much greater than anything we could imagine. It’s about being willing to make financial decisions based on His wants and not ours.
clarity is possible only for a steward who stubbornly tries to capture Gods desires for His resources.
Based on the previous descriptions of stewardship, would you describe yourself as a good steward of Gods resources?
Why or why not?