Original Post Date: December 20, 2015
I have spent the last four months living in Budapest, Hungary and traveling to the surrounding countries for ministry. Life in Europe has been…interesting to say the least! Traveling via public transport (a topic worthy of its own blog post), shopping in a foreign supermarket, and hanging all of my laundry out to dry are among the many new lifestyle changes I have experienced in this special season of my life. I’ve had a lot of adjusting to do, but the more I was willing to receive Budapest as my new home, the more room I created for Jesus to begin the work He wanted to do; and so began my European adventure!
The ministry program I am a part of has ten weeks of lectures before going out to minister to the nations. I began to notice a bit of a spiritual lag in myself during the eighth and ninth week and could sense the presence of a threshold that I was eager to burst through. I committed to fasting and praying during the last week of lectures, and through that week’s teaching received a revelation that has given new insight to my relationship with Jesus.
It is the blessed invitation of stewardship.
A steward is a manager, keeper, or caretaker of an entrusted treasure. The treasure has an owner, and the steward’s responsibility is to care for the treasure just as its owner would. The way the steward views the treasure strongly determines how the treasure will be cared for. In the hands of a good steward, the treasure will receive the utmost care, for the good steward has a continual awareness of the owner and the owner’s expectation of how the treasure should be cared for. In the hands of a poor steward, the treasure will be neglected and/or abused, for there exists a failure to understand the significance of the treasure.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being…'” Acts 17:24-28 (emphasis added)
This God is a God of stewardship, and Paul speaks of Him as the owner of life, breath, and everything else. He entrusted the earth to mankind, thus inviting us to be stewards of His treasures.
What a blessed invitation.
The treasures God entrusts to us can be tangible, such as “our” money, vehicles, homes, cell phones, laptops, etc. This is the stewardship relationship I am most familiar with. My first summer in Montana (Summer 2014) helped me to experience the Lord as the true owner of my possessions, and it changed the way I handled a lot of what the Lord has given me, especially money. What I’ve realized during my time in Budapest, however, is that the treasures God entrusts to us are not limited to what can be seen and touched. God also entrusts us with intangible treasures, such as knowledge and talents. Even more sobering than that, the Lord entrusts us with treasures that are both tangible and intangible, such as relationships. I wrestled with categorizing relationships as tangible or intangible treasures. We can see and touch the people that God has entrusted to us (friends, family, coworkers, etc.), but we cannot see the concept of a relationship or the bond that exists within it. I sought the guidance of my beloved man of God and received this response: “They are both. The intangible must be prioritized over the tangible. The intangible gives feeling and meaning to the tangible. Without the intangible, the tangible becomes empty, void, unsatisfying, without spirit, without purpose. Our relationship with God is mostly intangible (faith, love, grace, forgiveness, etc.), but has daily practical application and tangible experiences (prayer time, random acts of kindness, worship, the Bible).” He’s a keeper.
Everything we have has been entrusted to us by God, which is a sobering thought in itself. God trusts me. God trusts you. We hear sermon after sermon about how important it is to trust God, but it is rare that we are reminded that we have the treasures we have because God trusts us with them, and with that comes the expectation that we will treat His treasures well because He is the true owner (and creator) of all things and therefore considers all things highly valuable. If we’re all completely honest, we can think of at least one time in our lives when we have been poor stewards over something that has been entrusted to us, which gives the Lord more than enough justification to withhold His treasures.
And yet He doesn’t. Why?
Because He is by nature a generous, kind, and gracious God. He extends the invitation of stewardship so that we will seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, the owner of life, breath, and everything else. Stewardship is an invitation to have the eyes of Jesus. Even on our best day, we will never be able to fully grasp the significance of everything and everyone around us on our own. We need Jesus to show us how valuable the world is, a value He reestablished through His life, death, and resurrection. What a privilege it is for us to steward over what truly belongs to Him; what an honor it is to be trusted by the One who is altogether trustworthy. May we always have a continual awareness of who He is and what He has given us and step into the invitation He so kindly extends to us.
Christ as my anchor