In today’s episode we would like to share some common stewardship myths that are out there. As we do so, we will bring in theological aspects that will expose the “myth” for what it is, just a myth. These myths are not in any particular order.
Myth #1 – As long as I give, God doesn’t care what I do with the rest of my money.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this, “10% is God’s and the rest of my money (the remaining 90%) is mine!” Really? What does the Word Of God say about this myth? “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10, NIV84) Here we see that the Lord is the one that owns it all. All the creatures in the forest are His, even the cattle on a thousand hills! I don’t know how many cattle that is, but I am sure it is more than what I can count! “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (Psalm 24:1, NIV84). Have we, the church of today, forgotten that God owns it all and that He is just letting us borrow or use His stuff and money for a season? It comes down to having a Biblical mindset on “ownership”.
The Lord is the one who owns it all.
Myth #2 – Stewardship is about money and finances only.
“Stewardship is what I do after I say, ‘I believe.” Clarence C. Stoughton, former President of Wittenberg University (1940). Many people, especially Christians, believe that stewardship only deals with money and finances. Yes, it does deal with money and finances, but there’s so much more! A good definition of the word stewardship is: “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving” (dictionary.com). A good definition of Biblical stewardship would be: “Utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation” (wikipedia.com). If you explore the Bible, this idea of stewardship is another way of talking about how you live your life. In the New Testament books, the word “steward” is rooted in the Greek word “oikonomos,” which means “the manager of a household.” A manager does not just take care of money and finances, but it cares for the whole household; everything in it and about it!
Myth #3 – Stewardship/tithing is our membership dues to the local church.
This is an “old school” teaching that has come out of the church. It states that because we are believers in Christ, and because we are part of a local congregation, it is our responsibility to operate as stewards TO the church. It is more Biblically accurate to say that “stewardship is our responsibility AS the church, not TO the church! It is amazing what changes when we change a word or two! See the change in mindset? Because we are stewards of ALL that God has entrusted to us, money and possessions, we are called to care for and steward EVERYTHING that is in our care! This is our responsibility AS the church to Steward our assets well; to use our resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals.
Myth #4 – The only stewardship churches need is program oriented. (Stewardship is an event, not a lifestyle)
Stewardship is not only a program that is in the church. It is not a special week or month for the church to rally around giving to the ministry. Although Stewardship events are great, stewardship is an all-encompassing lifestyle. It’s a mindset, a way of thinking about who owns what you have and how you will be using it! I (Drew) grew up hearing about churches having “stewardship months” and “stewardship campaigns” within the church. I know what they were thinking, but now being older, they were most likely not following a good exegesis of what Biblical stewardship really is. The church was looking for money, giving, pledges and donations. They were not looking for a lifestyle change, but more-so an “exchange” of assets from the congregants account to the church building fund account. Stewardship isn’t just something you do. It is something you are.
Biblical Stewardship is a lifestyle, not just an action.
Myth #5 – My spouse is not on board with Biblical stewardship, therefore, I don’t need to worry about being a good steward.
When we stand before God, we will not answer for what our spouse did and how they lived. However, we WILL stand before God and give an account of how we lived AND STEWARDED all that the Lord has put into our care. My recommendation is that there needs to be a heart-to-heart conversation between the two of you and an agreement of giving/generosity so that it will not be an issue down the road in the marriage!
Myth #6 – Stewardship requires that I never spend money on me or my family (Luxuries).
You may be thinking that “good and proper Biblical stewardship” one ought to give, give, and then give some more. ‘No enjoyment for me or my family!’ Even though my wife’s $800 beater car keeps breaking down with her and the kids in it, I am not going to spend thousands on another car because I need to be a good steward and put my money towards the Lord’s work!Well, is that a good and BIBLICAL mindset to have? Take a look at Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, “Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18–19). We are not just allowed, but ENCOURAGED to enjoy the “fruit of our labors.” It is good to enjoy the abundance of what we have earned after we have taken care of the 5 Biblical Sequential Priorities as found in our first 6 or 7 episodes! Here are two more verses that encourage us to ENJOY that of what we worked for! Psalm 128:2, “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:2, NIV84). Ecclesiastes. 3:13, “That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:13, NIV84). Yes, be generous to your church and others. But also, do not neglect to enjoy what God has provided for you and your family!
It is good to enjoy the abundance of what we have earned
Myth #7 – I get to decide how to be a good steward (I am the standard).
Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Who owns the earth and everything in it? GOD. God sets the standards. If we could set our own standards, we would essentially be little ‘gods’. If one chooses to set the standard of anything in their life, it very well could be set too low, especially when it comes to money, finances and possessions. We quickly get “me, mine” mindset and it becomes difficult to “let go” of what we are stewarding, and it very well could turn into the “love of money” that Scripture warns us against. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV84). If we are the standard, we will almost always go the path of greater comfort and/or ease. It is important to know that when it comes to Biblical Stewardship we have over 2000 verses speaking about money, finances, possessions and stewardship in the Bible! Having an “objective” and not a “subjective” voice on this will almost always bring about a challenge along with thinking and actions that are greater than what we would typically choose to do. Remember, we are creatures of comfort, and we will almost always go with the path of least resistance. This is not saying that we will be lazy, but it does say that we will more times than not, choose the easier path than the harder one. Biblical stewardship will take us out of our comfort zone and propel us to where the Lord wants us to be! Taste and see that the Lord is good! If we are not “tasting and seeing” the goodness of the Lord, then we may be “stuck” in our comfort zone, on our own path and/or benchmark for life and stewardship. If this is the case, we will not be able to see or experience the the fullness of God and His blessings to those that are obedient to His Word!
Myth #8 – God’s blessing is dependent upon my stewardship.
This has been propagated so much in the last 20+ years through the health/wealth prosperity gospel (and I am using a small “g” since it is not THE Gospel!). One tel-evangelist stated this..”poverty is an evil spirit”. Really? How does that classify the widow that gives of her “mite” as talked about in Luke 21:1-4. Jesus speaks HIGHLY of her and commends her of her generosity in her poverty. So, poverty is not an evil spirit. I (Drew) recently read an article that was titled “Do I have to give to be blessed” and this is what they said…
1 – We are blessed because of God’s generosity
- The common mistake in thinking about God’s blessing is that it is brought about by our generosity. God’s grace and goodness is never based on our good works. If it were, then we would have never received the fullness of His grace that is Jesus Christ. God is gracious and generous to us even when we are not. That is how loving and faithful our Lord is.
- Generosity is more of a gauge of our heart’s content than a requirement given to get a pass into God’s blessing. When we are blessed, the proper response is generosity not materialism. When we respond in selfishness when God blesses us, it only shows that our hearts are in the wrong place.
2 – God’s concern is our heart, not our giving
- God doesn’t simply look to giving because God knows that we can give with the wrong motives. When we give out of sheer compulsion or to show off our financial capacity, we do not bless God; but when we do so with an intent to show gratitude to God for His goodness and to be a blessing to others, God is honored.
- That’s why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- Giving will surely bring blessing when done with the right heart motive — not because of what we have done but because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.”
The mindset of God’s blessing is based on what and how much we give and how we steward what is in our care is a “works” mentality. As stated in the article, God is more concerned about the heart. Yes, there is a reciprocal aspect that as we give, God will in return give back, and even at times in abundance (Luke 6:38). “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV84). But the most important aspect here is the heart. The desire to be obedient to God and His Word! As we do that, HE is the one that COULD choose to bless abundantly. Our blessing from God is NOT dependent on our stewardship. God is not a cosmic vending machine. God blesses everyone of His children…PERIOD! The extent of His blessing to us, I believe, comes down to our heart and realizing that all of what is in our care, is the Lord’s, and we are just care-takers of it all during our time this side of Glory. As we faithfully steward His possessions in our care, and doing it with the right heart and mind attitude, God, out of His goodness, gives increase and blessing, just like in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).
God is not a cosmic vending machine.
CONCLUSION // STEWARDSHIP APPLICATION
A good point of application is that one ought to let the Word of God be the guide for the what, and how of our stewardship. It is SO easy for us to “take it into our own hands.” That is why we NEED the Word of God as our guide on how we ought to live Biblical stewardship as a lifestyle!
“Stewardship is the use of God-given resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals.” (Ron Blue, 2004)
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