Seizing our Role as Stewards
“You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”— Matthew 25:23
A few years ago, a biographer researched the life of the Duke of Wellington. He had no difficulty tracing the major events of his life, but pushing beyond public knowledge to an understanding of the private side of the Duke remained difficult. Then this researcher came across a box of his financial records. When the researcher learned what the Duke had done with his money, he finally discovered the Duke’s deepest values and most important priorities.
If someone were to come across our financial records a hundred years from now, what would our check registers or our Quicken files say about us? Would we be embarrassed by our use of money? Would our financial records give any sign that we sought to live as faithful stewards of the treasures God had entrusted to us?
We don’t use the word “steward” very much in our culture. The only steward most of us meet is the one who brings us a cup of coffee or a bag of peanuts on a flight. But in biblical times, stewards were among the most important people in society. A steward had command over the resources of another.
In a world without fax machines, cell phones, or pagers, a wealthy man had no choice but to entrust his holdings to his steward while he was away from his estate.
In the parable from Matthew, Jesus teaches that all of us are stewards entrusted by God with vast wealth. Even the steward who received just one talent was given a fortune worth the equivalent of thirty-five years of daily wages.
But exercising our stewardship is often intimidating. Whenever we use our gifts, we risk what we think might be failure. It’s tempting to think that if God is really so powerful, God hardly needs our meager efforts to multiply his wealth!
Each of us faces the temptation of compromising our calling. Is it really so evil to do nothing with the resources God has left in our keeping? Jesus’ parable answers this question with a resounding yes! As the master illustrates, God treats us severely when we offer excuses to justify our reluctance to be stewards.
It’s good to know that another option is open to us. We can seize our role as stewards with the eagerness of the first two stewards in the parable. Both of these faithful stewards multiply the master’s resources. And both receive the same reward at their master’s return: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21).
At the end of time, will we hear those same words from our Lord?
Stewardship is one of the central disciplines of our spiritual life. As we grow in our faith and trust, we discover that our self-giving – giving of our time, talent and treasure – is one of the deepest possible joys. For as we thankfully share what God has given, we follow the example of our Lord.