Stewarding & Managing God’s Resources

Here is a basic question for life: How should we manage our gifts and resources well? Given a limited lifespan and limited resources, this is a pressing issue. For many, the answer concerns the desires of the self without concern for the glory of God or what the Bible requires. When someone is challenged about a life choice, they may respond, “Whose life is it anyway?” The assumed answer is, “It’s my life and I make the choices.” Pro-abortion advocates yell, “My body, my choice.”

Carl Trueman has identified this attitude as “expressive individualism” in his insightful book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. Through the influence of secular philosophers, poets, and psychologists, the self has been uprooted from its identity as God’s creature and its responsibility to God and one’s neighbor as of first important. This is akin to the judgment rendered at the end of the Book of Judges: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25). But there is a better way.

The Christian realizes that he or she is a creature of God, made in the divine image to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves as the (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 22:37-40). As the Psalmist writes:

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3).

God created the cosmos and he alone owns everything in it.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters (Psalm 24:1-2).

That implies that he owns us, the only earthling made in his image and likeness; we are his property ultimately. But what belongs to him is a gift to us, since we are dependent on God for all good things, including our bodies (James 1:17). As another Psalm says:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well (Psalm 139:13-14).

Humans owe their nature and their existence to God, whether we admit it or not. Sadly, some “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). But those who admit their creaturehood and have come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life are double-indebted to God because they know him as both Creator and as Redeemer. As Paul says to Christians, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Because we belong to God, we should honor God in stewarding our resources—that is our bodies, our talents, our possessions, and our time. As Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).

We offer ourselves and our worship to God and his purposes. Rick Warren started his famous book, The Purpose-Driven Life, with these words, “It’s not about you.” No, life is about God and the advance of his Kingdom! As Jesus taught, instead of worrying over our possessions and health, we should:

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34).

Our mental and material resources aim at advancing God’s kingdom through our faith and good works in the power of the Holy Spirit (James 2:14-26; John 15:1-5). Treasures on earth mean little; treasures in Heaven mean everything, as Jesus taught (Matthew 6:19-24). Our earthy resources can be used for spiritual good through a life of generosity and love. As Paul said, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). In my church, this verse is recited before the offering is taken, which is apropos. Just as Christ gave all for us, we should use our resources as ways of benefitting others. Our earthly possessions should be held lightly and used generously to provide for our families, to support the church, and to help those in need. Few ideas are more stupid than the bumper sticker, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Wins what, I wonder?

Since our bodies belong to God, they should not be offered to immorality and indulgence. Through the Holy Spirit, we can deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:26). The Apostle Paul’s words are strict, true, and necessary for our licentious time.

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

He also admonishes us: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).
When those around us are tragically dissipating themselves through fornication, adultery, transgenderism, and pornography, we can resist these temptations and affirm a godly sexuality of self-control and erotic intimacy only within holy matrimony. This is the narrow way Jesus calls us to, and not the broad path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14; see also 1 John 2:15-17).

Besides the stewardship of our bodies and our possessions, we should offer our time and attention to the Lord. As Moses wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Since we are finite beings, we only have so much intellectual strength and awareness available to us. It is too easy to mismanage our minds by wasting time on pointless amusements—particularly online—that stupefy and dumb us down. The writer of Hebrews warned his readers of this mistake:

We have much to say about this [salvation], but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:11-14).

May we train ourselves through prayer, study, and godly living to be good stewards of all our resources that we might glorify God and serve our neighbor in the time that God grants us under the sun.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, where he has served since 1993. He is the author or co-author of fourteen books, including the best-selling, Unmasking the New Age, the much-used apologetics textbook, Christian Apologetics, and introduction to philosophy, Philosophy in Seven Sentences, a memoir, Walking through Twilight, and a children’s book, I Love You to The Stars (with Crystal Bowman).