(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, we continue to work our way through the themes of Proverbs, and I find myself wanting to say each time, “I love this theme,” because I actually love all of them. But this is the theme of stewardship; it is really a chord that just travels all the way through the Proverbs. Stewardship is your personal commitment to care for what God has entrusted to you, that's what stewardship is.
And from the beginning of Proverbs to the end of Proverbs, you have this wonderful, multifaceted definition of what stewardship is and what it looks like. Proverbs 3:9 says this about stewardship, that it's about honoring the LORD with your wealth. Whatever God has entrusted to you, you want to ask yourself the question, “Do I honor God by the way I use this?”
Proverbs 13:11 talks about the perseverance aspect of stewardship. Stewardship is hard, it requires perseverance, it's about gathering little by little by little. Stewardship is not four or five big things, it's 10,000 little things.
Proverbs 13:22 talks about stewardship, is about determining you are going to leave a good legacy, “A (righteous) man leaves an inheritance,” not just for his children, but for “his children's children.” Proverbs 16:3 describes stewardship as working unto the LORD, “Commit your work to the LORD.” I wonder how often I do that, that every day I would say, “LORD, I want to commit the work that I do to you?”
Proverbs 16:8 says that stewardship is righteous work, it’s about the character of your work, not just how much you work but the character of your work. It says, “Better is a little with righteousness than (much) with (foolishness).”
Proverbs 22:7 talks about the responsibility of the success of your stewardship, that you will get rule and influence; and so, a good steward will have that responsibility. How do I handle the influence that my stewardship has brought to me?
And then Proverbs 28:27 talks about the fact that stewardship includes generosity, “Whoever gives to the poor will not want.”
Now here’s what you need to understand, the root of this call to stewardship is the doctrine of creation. I'm a painter, and when I finish a painting, it belongs to me because I made it. And so, the doctrine of creation tells us that everything belongs to the LORD. I don't own anything in my life; it all belongs to Him. What we are, we are God's resident managers, but you have to get up in the morning and say to yourself, “Everything I am, and everything I have, and everything I'm about to do, every situation, every location, every relationship, all of my personal capabilities, belong to the LORD,” and then say, “LORD, I will commit my work today to you.”
The question all of us should be asking between the already of our conversion and the not yet of our home going is, “How am I, right now, right here, today, using what belongs to my LORD?” We have to surrender to His ownership and forsake the thoughts of our own ownership.
Now, you have to know this is counterintuitive for us, this is not natural. We are possessive and selfish and claim ownership over things that don't along to us; and so, once again, this call to stewardship drives us to the grace of the LORD. “Oh! May I recognize God's ownership over everything in my life; and may I always, by grace, commit all of my work, all the time, every day, in every situation, to Him?”