Major V. I. Luke Vice-President (Development) India Bible College and Seminary Kumbanad

The day a person accepts Jesus as his personal Savior, hehas made a commitment to serve Him, thereby denying the attractions of the world. It is far more special and sacred than a covenant relationship between man and woman who take an oath of commitment to be faithful and loyal to one another in a holy matrimony.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away and behold all things have become new in his life (II Cor 5:17).He becomes bonded to the Lord, having been released of his bondage with Satan and attractions of the world. The commitment is between him and God. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. One cannot serve God and mammon at the same time” (Luke 16:13)

We read from I Tim 6:10 that, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many arrows”.

God wants us to be faithful stewards of His financial resources. A believer who understands that wealth and financial resources truly belong to God will be faithful and committed to God in all dealings with money. This understanding of stewardship leads to contentment with life. Simply stated, stewardship is how we manage something placed within our responsibility. A steward must be someone who can be trusted to care for the things that are important or dear to the Master.

Greediness and covetousness disappears. We have come to this world empty handed and can carrynothing back. Hence, one of the most profound verses in the Bible says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” – I Tim 6:6. A godly person is always at peace with God and with himself. He stays blessed and content with whatever God has given him. He neither complains, nor is grumpy, nor is he envious or jealous of others. He remains thankful to God for all of his possessions, which he considers as a gift from God.

Money is not a sin, but love of money is the root of all evil. Abraham was rich and so was Job. Yet they were neither slaves to their wealth nor haughty in their trust in the uncertain riches that they possessed. Instead they loved and feared God and remained committed to Him till the end, despite being wealthy.

When we study the examples of Abraham and his nephew, Lot – the contrast in their commitment to financial stewardship is clearly revealed.

In Gen.13:2 we understand that Abram was very rich in livestock, silver and gold, on departing from Egypt. Yet, he was not proud of his riches because he knew that it was God who was with him and blessed him with all the wealth he possessed. He was committed to takingcare and being a faithful steward of God’s wealth and provisions. God loved his attitude and therefore continued to bless him materially. Not so with Lot who was greedy of his wealth and possessions. He believed in his own strength or capabilities. He tried to possess and grab more; did not care much for God, the Giver of all good things. When the two of them with their possessions travelled south from Egypt, there was strife over the livestock between the herdsmen of Abramand Lot – as their wealth increased and Abram realized that they couldnot live together. Hence he decided that they separate and he left it for Lot to choose the best of the land.

Lot surveyed the land in front of him and found the plains of Jordan to be well watered, green and prosperous. Hence, being greedy to possess the best and become wealthier, he chose to move toward east as far as Sodom. Little did he realize that God was in control and He chose to bless and honor Abram with Canaan. Abram built an altar to the Lord and gave priority to worshipping Him. Here we see Abram’s commitment to financial stewardship in handling God given resources. His attitude and actions clearly speak that he was not greedy or jealous of what others possessed. He was content with what he had since he considered it all as from God. God, therefore, honored his choice and blessed the land of Canaan for the sake of Abram and made him and his people more prosperous than ever before.

The above fact is further emphasized by Abram’s attitude of taking the risk of going with just 318 of his well trained warriors to the rescue of Lot and his people from Sodom, to rescue those plundered and taken as captives by Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam and three other kings with him. God gave Abram the victory and honored his attitude- with bread and wine by Melchizedek, the King of Salem (king of righteousness andpeace) when he returned victorious from the battle and slaughter of the heathen kings.

Melchizedek is also known as the “mystery king”, without any mention of father or mother, genealogy, having neither the beginning of days nor end of life, made like the Son of God, who remains continually the Priest of God Most High(Gen 14:18;Heb.7:3) andJesus himself is referred to as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb.7:1-17). To him Abram gave a tithe of all he got from the plunder and spoils from the battle; because only to Abram did God reveal the real identity of Melchizedek, the ‘mystery king’. Abram perceived that his victory with a mere 318 of his men of war against the four strong heathen kings and their armies of mighty warriors, was from God and he was honoring God by offering the tithe to Melchizedek, the King of Salem.

Abram did not desire any of the riches, from the plunder of the kings in the rescue of Lot from Sodom, even when offered to him by the king of Sodom (Gen.14:17; 21-23). Heconsidered himself the servant of God Most High. He did not want the heathen king of Sodom to take any glory for making him wealthy – Abram was totally committed as the steward of his incomparable God the Almighty! Genuine commitment to financial stewardship is proven when we do not take credit or grab what does not belong to us rightfully. Abram demonstrated this well before God and man! Abram could have otherwise taken possession of all the plundered wealth from the battle and did not have to wait for the king of Sodom to offer them as gift-both of which he anyway refused. Abram’s loyalty and faithfulness shown to God was indeed highly honorable and pleasing to God!

Job was a wealthy, content man who loved and feared God, and shunned evil (Job1:1). He was known as the greatest and wealthiest in the entire eastern hemisphere in his time, (which today includes most of Africa, about half of Antarctica, all of Asia and Australia/Oceania and much of Europe!) Yet when he was deprived of all his wealth and possessions to the point where his own wife tried to disown him, he never uttered a single word against God his Maker! He ever remained grateful to God by expressing, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Here we see yet another demonstration of commitment to financial stewardship of God’s wealth. Job’s commitment to pleasing God during his grief and loss far outweighed the loss of his wealth and fame.

As believers, our attitude towards our treasure, possessions, time and talents reveal much about ourselves. Sharing our God given material blessing with those in need creates a fertile relationship to share the message of Christ. Wise management of our limited time and resources demonstrates our loveand commitment toward Him. (2 Tim. 2:1-10; 1 John 4:19).

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 we are taught how stewardship and willingness to give should come from our heart, and not be pressurized by others to give. We should also keep in mind that He is the ultimate source of all wisdom and provision. When we sacrificially give, God makes up the difference in providing for our needs as well as the wisdom to be good stewards.

Finally, nowhere in scripture do we find that giving should be motivated by what we will receive in return. Therefore, exercising faithful stewardship demonstrates our love for God and our neighbor.

Stewardship is what we do to manage something that has been placed under our responsibility, care and trust. Stewardship includes wise management of our treasure, time, and talents so that we can use these things in the service of the Lord for the benefit of others. Exercising faithful stewardship demonstrates our love for God and our neighbor.

Even in our jobs – be it secular or in Christian ministry, managing time, money and human resources without wastage or pilferage is displaying commitment in financial stewardship.

While serving in the Field Area during my service in the Indian Army, I was once in charge of a large fleet of vehicles, fuel and supplies including free railway warrants.Being in a Field Area, there was no internal or external audit for all this equipment. Hence, as an officer, I am made responsible to be the custodian of all equipments and stores etc., whose value ran into several crores of rupees. For instance, a blank railway warrant serves as an open return-journey train ticket in First Class AC coach between two places that are farthest apart in our country.

There have been situations in the Army, where my integrity could have been questioned, due to the huge responsibility I was entrusted. In all of those circumstances, the Lord, in His grace, did not permit me to succumb to pressure, or cause any loss to the national exchequer by engaging in matters not ethical or proper.

I was conscious of being accountable to my Master who was watching over me! I had to be more committed to Him in handling the resources under my command as His honest and faithful steward.

When the rubber hits the road, it is on occasions such as these that our faithfulness and commitment to financial stewardship is tested by our Lord. As Christian stewards, upholding integrity, honor and Christian values even while handling seemingly insignificant responsibilities is of utmost importance. That is when He will entrust us with larger responsibilities – Luke 16:10, says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much …”.

God desires to see us as faithful stewards of His resources. For that He puts us through certain tests that could be both demanding and demeaning.
Joseph was entrusted with the full charge of Potiphar’s household (Gen 39:2-6).

Joseph feared God and was committed to handling faithfully all that was in his care.

Potiphar, the captain of the Egyptian guard, found Joseph faithful and made him responsible for all his financial resources. When put to test to lie with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph demonstrated his true character by fleeing from her by saying, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The seemingly endless woes that Joseph thereafter had to bear were beyond what anyone of us can handle. Yet his great fear and respect towardGod,endeared him to follow the stringentpath of righteousness that he preferred to choose. His commitment to financial stewardship of the resources entrusted to him by his boss, Potiphar, especially being a Hebrew slave that he was; is something worth reckoning. As a matter of fact, God blessed Potiphar and helped him prosper just because of Joseph’s testimony of being committed to serving God in a foreign land among strange people.

Joseph was soon rewarded for his stewardship and ultimately landed as the Second-in-command or the Prime Minister of Egypt. He was honored and respected for his principles, stewardship and faithfulness over the vast riches of the most powerful kingdom of the then world ruled by Pharaoh.

The story of Joseph unwinds as one of the best success stories in the Bible – simply because he demonstrated his commitment as a good steward and as a good servant of God.

May the Lord allow each of us to follow the good examples around us, emulate qualities of Christian commitment and display excellent financial stewardship – for the glory of our God Almighty!