by Ken Rolheiser
When Stewardship Ends 

The frugal man entered the house panting. 
“What happened, honey?”
“I tried an idea to be a better steward of our resources. I ran all the way home behind the bus and saved $1.50.
“That wasn’t very bright. Why didn’t you run behind a taxi and save $10?”
If I asked you to give ten ways you could be a good steward today, what would you say? My quick list would include the use of time, talent and treasure.

Breaking this down further, I would include care of our bodies – including exercise and nutrition, care of creation – from recycling to worthy environmental projects, and management of our intellectual faculties of mind and spirit.

The starting point of our stewardship is the realization that everything we have is a gift from God. Everything belongs to God and is not for our sole personal use. In everything we do, we should seek God first. Everything else is second.

One day, which will be sooner for some of us than for others, we will be asked for an accounting of our stewardship (Luke 16:2). Methodist theologian John Wesley presents a lengthy discussion of that day.

As a fallen creature, man is a debtor to God, who instead of despising man’s fallen state sent Jesus to take the form of a servant, Wesley said. But Jesus invites us to more. He shows us God the Father’s heart and invites us to be stewards of the Kingdom. 

Billy Graham explained it like this: “Everything we have is given to us by God. A steward lives for the day he will return the Master’s goods to Him.” All we have—our material goods, our abilities, and even our very lives—belong to God. 

As John Wesley put it, a steward is not at liberty to use his master’s possessions as he pleases but only as the master wishes. He must use the possessions according to the master’s direction. This has serious implications on the use of our gifts from God. (from The Good Steward, John Wesley).

What will be expected when our stewardship ends? When our body drops off, what remains? “…our knowledge and senses, our memory and understanding, together with our will, our love, hate, and all our affections, remain,” Wesley says; but our stewardship over them is ended.

Since God has entrusted these faculties to us, we are to use our free will, our understanding, our imagination, and our memory wholly to the glory of him that gave them.

In addition, God has entrusted to us our bodies and the organs of our senses such as sight, hearing and the rest. We are to employ them in the manner God appoints. They are not to be employed merely according to our will.

Thus, our most excellent use of speech, the use of our hands and feet and the members of our bodies – all our talents – should be used for good and not for evil. Our precious talent of money is to be used for the Lord’s purposes.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, / with the first fruits / of all your produce; (Proverbs 3:9). Do we see the Lazarus at our doorstep?

God’s mission requires all of us—all we have and all we are. Everything we have was given to us by God in the first place. When we realize that truth, it will be reflected on our calendars, our contact list, our bookshelves, and our charitable donations.
(579 words)