To steward is to be human. To steward well is to be holy.
Of all God’s creatures in the Garden of Eden Adam was the only one given responsibility. He was “put into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). He was then given the task of naming the living creatures. The former was a great physical task, and the latter was a great mental one. The beginning of his stewardship, however, was not in these responsibilities, important as they were, but in the care for his own body.
It isn’t stated expressly, of course, but we can’t cultivate a garden if our tools don’t work. Adam needed to be making good choices in the “cultivating” of his mind and body if he was to be of any use in the Garden. Can you imagine trying to name the creatures on only a few hours of sleep? That would be more hilarious than meaningful. Likewise, if we don’t take care of our cardinal asset, so to speak, any other tool in our hands will not be used well.
You are a soul, not just a body.
Let’s get one thing straight. You are not a body. You havea body, but you are a soul. Just as the Holy Spirit dwells in you (your soul) to affect holy thinking, You dwell in a body to affect holy living. In this regard, we are the intermediaries between the Holy Spirit and our bodies, and we are responsible for translating the instructions in righteousness we receive—either from the Spirit of Truth or the Word—into our specific behaviors. The same principle can be applied to any other resource we are given to steward.
The better we understand this prime responsibility, the better we will be as stewards of any other resource. So what can we learn here about money?
Don’t hate your body.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he gives instruction to husbands and wives about how they are to relate to one another. Right in the middle of that passage is the basic instruction about how to steward our own bodies. “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and protects it, just as Christ does His community” (Eph. 5:29).
“Nourish” and “protect”. “Cultivate” and “keep”. See the pattern here? We are good stewards of our finances when we allow them to grow and flourish through actively nourishing and protecting them. This was part of the lesson of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
We nourish our bodies by eating healthy food, being active, and resting well. And we protect our bodies when we wash and cover them, and when we avoid dangerous environments and activities. That’s all very elementary, though. How do we translate these concepts of stewardship to our finances?
Nourish what is living.
Money is not so different from “living” things. Living things that move are healthier than those that don’t, and financial assets that “move” are wealthier than those that are stagnant. Truly, the value of money is realized when it is moving.
In Matthew 25, when the three servants were entrusted with portions of their master’s possessions only two of them understood this principle. Instead of letting their portions sit still, they took them out into the world and let them move, trading with them in the marketplace. These wise servants doubled their portions.
The Greek word translated as “entrusted” in this passage (παραδίδωμι, paradidomi) implies that the servants were empowered by their master to use and manage the talents. The lesson here is that the Master wants us to manage the growth of the portions He gives. The servant who buried his one talent did not fulfill the responsibility given to him. He may have protected the talent, but he did not nourish it. Instead, the contempt he had for his master caused him to ignore his master’s wishes, and that kept him from any increase whatsoever.
Money is made to move. As a medium of exchange, money is in its element when it facilitates exchange. Identify the best ways in which your money can move and encourage that movement. God rewards those who let their resources move and grow. In fact, He blesses them with even more increase (Matt. 25:28). Trust in the truth of that, and don’t be afraid of taking wise risks.
Protect what is vulnerable.
Wisdom and prayer are essential when deciding where we spend or invest our money. Though money flourishes when it moves in the marketplace, it is as fragile as it is dynamic. Finding the right balance requires thoughtful consideration and a healthy dose of trust—in God, in our assessment and ability, and in the marketplace.
Just like we don’t place our bodies in dangerous environments or in the company of hurtful people, we must place our money with intention and care. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, we have some cultivating to do, but there are good and bad ways to do that.
There is good and bad risk, too. The “wicked, lazy servant” (Matthew 25:26) didn’t understand this. He believed that there was only bad risk. And he believed that his master was only a hard man. His choice was based on these incorrect perceptions, and he ended up paying the price.
To God, nothing is more valuable—and vulnerable—than His people. You and me. He protects us with a mighty hand (Psalm 136:12), and He has sustained us (Psalm 55:22) throughout history, giving us the space we need to grow and mature and increase in worth.
Before we are anything else, we are stewards, and every day is an exercise in nourishing and protecting everything in our care. We nourish and protect ourselves (our souls) by being in His word daily. We nourish and protect our bodies so that they can better serve us as we do His will. We nourish and protect our families so that they can grow, physically and spiritually. Apply these lessons to your finances and every other resource you have. If you do this your life will truly be “set apart”. TP
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