Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”Titus 2:11-15, ESV
These verses teach us that stewardship is all about our identity in Christ, how we answer the question, “Who am I?” The answer to that question all begins in the beginning, in Genesis chapter 1. Here we find that man is created in God’s image, meaning that he has the perfect fear, love, and trust in God that causes him to live a perfect life of love and service toward his neighbour and makes him a good steward. And immediately, God gives man creation to care for. From the very beginning, before the Fall has occurred, man is given vocation–caring for creation and to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Man is created to be a steward, he’s created into a vocation.
Genesis 3, then, is the first stewardship crisis with the temptation that Adam & Eve could be like God, gods themselves, taking control of the Garden that wasn’t theirs and supplant the Owner. Now man wants to be God, and man & woman both want what the other has, or they’re just wanting each other. In the curses of Genesis 3, God then outlines how vocation and stewardship work in a fallen world. Eve will have the vocation of motherhood, but now that vocation will be wrapped in suffering and pain. But now, Eve isn’t going to be in content in her vocation but instead desire the vocation of her husband. Adam’s vocation is now going to be to struggle against the ground, which once gave its produce with minimal toil. Now the ground will give him weeds, and food will come only by the sweat of his brow, and one day he’s going to return to the dust.
From this point on mankind is stuck in a stewardship crisis where man thinks he’s the owner of all creation, which he can use with no regard to its care. This brings several issues with it: 1. Relational, 2. Environmental, 3. Financial, and 4. Spiritual. All these issues, all this bad stewardship comes from humanity abandoning their vocations in each area and seeking another. Now the one in the relationship of marriage seeks another relationship that seems more interesting. The one in the financial vocation of caring for their family leaves that vocation in favour of hoarding, greed, and debt.
The fix for all of this is found only in the cross, which undoes Genesis 3 and restores humanity’s relationship to God, to creation, and to one another. Titus 2 shows us that salvation and our stewardship are free gifts from God who saves us, baptizes us and stewards us. This means that our stewardship is without compulsion or manipulation. Our stewardship is joyous meaning it is our worship to God who, out of His mercy for us went to the cross to save us, now Baptizes us into our identity as His children. Our stewardship is now a visible confession of who we are in Christ, and this covers all of our lives because there’s never a time we stop being baptized, and so there’s never a time we stop being God’s stewards.
And its when we get pragmatic about stewardship that we actually destroy stewardship. It’s when we use stewardship as the means of paying our budget, our bills or getting volunteers that we actually divorce stewardship from the altar, the pulpit, and the font, and turn it into a money or volunteer drive that takes place only through manipulation and compulsion.
What was lost in the Fall, Jesus has restored by His cross. We are stewards of God in Christ, through faith. He’s made us His stewards once again by His death on the cross, and by baptizing us into our new identity as children of God and His stewards. Next month we look at our struggle as Christian stewards.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Tim Schneider