Biblical Stewardship: Its Many Faces

Introduction:  This six-part series: Biblical Stewardship: Its Many Faces provides biblical insight into a concept that is misunderstood and poorly practiced. The goal of every believer is to be a good theologian. By theologian, I mean everyone has a belief about God, a relationship with God (believer or unbeliever), and lives in God’s as a faith-based, rational, dependent creature. At creation, God designed mankind as a theologian. In the Garden prior to sin, Adam and Eve were good theologians. They lived in proper relationship to God, to each other, and to self. Their relationship with God influenced their thoughts, desires, and actions about and toward God, each other, self and God’s creation.

They had received counsel from God directing them to care for what God had entrusted them (Genesis 2:15-17). God had placed Adam, and eventually Eve, in the Garden to work it and take care of it. Further God gave them an agenda to follow: be fruitful and multiply/increase in number; fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living creature that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28). These commands and instructions included taking of themselves: physical and spiritual well-being.

By God’s creational design, biblical stewardship had many faces and aspects. Adam and Eve were or were to be a busy twosome. They were to live as good theologians based on God’s direction. The were to enjoy biblical stewardship and its many faces. One of the keys for functioning as a good theologian is acknowledging and acting upon the truth that every believer is called to be a good steward. He must give an account of all entrusted to him. This includes his friends, body, time, resources, words, activities, and thoughts.

I. Stewardship is a controlling principle of life.

A. Biblical Stewardship: its many faces defined: It is a whole-person activity, motivated by the desire to please God.
1. The person properly cares of that which he has been entrusted with by God Who expects, and deserves an accounting and a return on what He has given.
2. The whole person includes the body (brain and the rest of the body – soma) and the inner man (heart, mind, spirit, and soul are biblical terms for the inner man).

B. The biblical principle of stewardship is rejected by the unbeliever, and, too often, by the believer.

1. The unbeliever: The unbeliever doesn’t have the desire or the capacity to please God with his body.

a. Rather he functions as if his body is to be used for his own glory.
b. He denies and rejects God’s ownership of anything and his dependency on Him and God’s direction as given in the Bible.
c. His view of his body is:
1) It is mine.
2) I have the final say about it.
3) If he takes care of it, it is for me with a goal of feeling better, better health, less hassle, good feeling about self, sense of accomplishment, and a place of refuge.

d. What drives the unbeliever, and sadly many believers, is pleasure for “now” manifested by “I want” and “I deserve.”
e. If the unbeliever does “care” for his body, it is for self-gain.

2. The believer may acknowledge the biblical principle but all too often does not apply it. He functions as an unbeliever.

a. But the believer knows that:

1) His body is not his own, it has been bought with a price, it is the temple of the HS, and he has a responsibility to use it to glorify God: 1 Corinthians 6:19-2
2) He is to present it (himself) to God as act of worship for His service: Romans 12:1-2.
3) His body is God’s property: it is his on loan; it does not belong to him. His body has been entrusted to him.
4) Everything he does, think, and desire is to glorify God: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 1:20; Colossians 3:21.

b. He knows these things because he is a changed person from the inside out.
1) He has a relationship with Christ by the Holy Spirit.
2) He has knowledge: he has biblical principles – God’s truth – to guide him.
3) He has wisdom: he has enabling grace in order to apply biblical truths for his good and God’s glory.

c. He embraces God’s word and rejoices that he is able to please God with whatever body God has given him.
d. He looks forward to the words: well done and faithful servant; enter into my house – my kingdom!
e. The believer is not to be a body-mechanic but he is to take care of his body as a good steward.

1) Going and not going to the doctor may be good or bad stewardship.
2) Balance: too much sleep, work, and medication may be good or bad stewardship.
3) Going to the doctor (also exercising, eating correctly, etc) is for the purpose of being a good steward is in order to be a 2 Corinthians 5:9 person
4) A byproduct of good stewardship may be good health and relief.
5) Assuming proper motivation, learning what the Bible says about health is one of the best ways to be a good steward: Proverbs 3:5-8.

f. The believer is not a spiritual-mechanic: he is so concerned with the spiritual that is not of any earthly good.

1) He is whole person – a duplex being such that thinking, wanting, feelings, and doing are linked. Therefore:
2) He is to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness: both the inner and outer man: 1 Timothy 4:7-8.
3) As a duplex being, his inner man affects the outer-man function: thoughts, feelings, and actions.
4) As a duplex being the outer man affects the functioning of the inner man and vice versa.

II. The whole person is involved: both the outer man (body) and inner man (heart) involves thinking, desires, and actions.

A. Man was created an image-bearer of God as a unit, a duplex being, inner and outer man.
B. Man is a whole person and he thinks, desires, and acts in both the inner and outer man.
C. Biblical stewardship: its many faces must be consider to involve the whole person:

1. He thinks – purposes – in both the outer man (brain – frontal lobe) and in the inner man – the heart.
2. Man desires – affections – in both the outer man (brain – limbic system) and the inner man – the heart.
3. Somehow, the inner and outer man is connected such that the content of a person’s heart (inner man) affects the body (outer man) and changes in the body influences the inner man.
4. Man acts as a unit involving both the outer man (visible manifestations of wanting and thinking – sometimes called fantasy or imaginations) and inner man (invisible manifestation of wanting and thinking – murder/anger and adultery).

III. Stewardship is a theological issue and activity:

A. Every one is a theologian as described above and he lives in or out of relationship to God: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
B. Everyone is a steward. The question is which kind: good or bad?
C. Biblical Stewardship: its many faces involves taking care of that which God has entrusted to you: Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-13; 19:11-27.
D. The best thing a person can do for his health is to have a developing right relationship with the Lord.

1. Every person is responsible for the body God has given him.
2. Good stewardship is part of God’s program to please God: good health may be a by-product of it.
3. Therefore, the goal is godly stewardship whether good health comes or not.

IV. There are at least six characteristics of biblical stewardship:

A. God owns everything; you own nothing. This is an ownership issue (1 Chronicles 29:10-20; Haggai 2:7-8; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
B. Yet, you possess. God entrusts to you everything you have, including your body. This is a responsibility issue (1 Corinthians 4:2-5; Psalm 139:13-16).
C. God enables you to use, and even increase, what He entrusts to you. This is a user issue (Deuteronomy 8:16-18)
D. God expects a return on what He has given. This is an expectation issue (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27).
E. You must give an account of your care and it may be today. This is an accounting issue (Luke 12:16-21; 2 Cor 5:10).
F. The issue is good or bad stewardship and there are consequences for that stewardship. This is a result issue (Matthew 25:24-27; Luke 19:24).

V. Particular Biblical Principles re: Health and Stewardship

A. Wisdom living: the issue is whose wisdom?

1. Ecclesiastes 7:14-18: balance is the key: righteousness and over-righteousness and wickedness and “over-wickedness” are foolishness and leads to “premature” death.
2. Proverbs 2:12-19: wisdom which is heart condition and activity leads to a simplified life and less enticement to be involved in sinful activity. It is good for the body and soul!
3. Proverbs 3:5-8: the wise person trust in God: it brings health to the whole person especially the body. The foolishness person trusts in self with whole person consequences.
4. Proverbs 7:21-27; 1 Corinthians 15:3: the importance of influence via companionship is emphasized. Everyone is an influencer and is influenced. Sinful influence carries its own desserts for the whole person.
5. Proverbs 10:27-28 (see 3:5-8, 16; 9:11; 14:27; 19:23): fear of the Lord adds length to life and wickedness cuts it short.
6. Proverbs 12:15; 14:12/16:25: the fool is his own man and his way seems right in his own eyes but the wise seeks and listens to other counsel (15:22)
7. Proverbs 12:25; 14:30; 15:13, 30; 16:24-25; 17:22: these series of passages teach the connection between the inner and outer man. Mishandling God’s providence (life) such as worry leads to outer-man problems. You can “worry” yourself sick. Unrest and agitation in the soul – in the inner man – affects outer-man function. Conversely, a “happy” heart is good medicine. The outer man is influenced by thoughts, desires, and attitude.
8. Proverbs 13:13,15: wisdom leads to listening and more wisdom and a favorable life. The hard way is taken by the one who disregards biblical principles and their application.
9. Proverbs 28:1 (Psalm 53:5): fear, un-confessed sin, and or guilt not handled God’s way leads to turmoil within – inner-man angst.
10. Proverbs 1:15-18 (Psalm 55:23): those who are violent within only or observed are plotting to gain at other people’s expense but their end is misery.

B. Disobedience can result in disease and symptoms of varying degree.

1. Proverbs 13:18, 25: ignoring discipline and setting aside biblical principles leads to hunger and body problems
2. Deuteronomy 28:15, 22, 27-28; Leviticus 26:16: God promises covenant curses for covenantal unfaithfulness that includes disease (Exodus 15:26).
3. Psalms 32 and 38: Un-confessed and mishandled sin as pat o rebellion can lead to body problems – fatigue and pain.
4. Proverbs 7:21-27: following false counsel and lies as well as living a life of lies (4:18-19) is hard on the body.
5. 2 Chronicles 16:10-12; 21:16-19; 26:16-20: these three kings experienced immediate retribution by the Lord for sin in the form of disease (see 1 Corinthians 11:28-32).
6. Numbers 11:31-34; 12:1-10; 14:16, 41-45: Grumbling and complaining has inner man and outer man consequences (1 Corinthians 10:1-14).
C. Selected whole-person activities in terms thoughts, desires, and actions as pump-primers:

1. Proverbs 1:7; 2:5; 3:5-8; 9:10: fear of the Lord is good for the body.
2. Proverbs 3:1-2/Psalm 119:9-11: hide the word of God in your heart for godly obedience prolongs one’s life.
3. Proverbs 12:25: worry is a whole-person activity of wanting and thinking that focuses on control. It wears the body down. It divides the whole person.
4. Proverbs 13:14: listening to and applying Godly wisdom is healthy turning a man away from the “snares of death.”
5. Proverbs 14:26-27, 30: the fear of the Lord as a patterned lifestyle turns the person from the “snare” of death. A heart at peace – the person is in sync with God’s truth and fears the Lord is health producing. The person who is agitated within is characterized by unrest, bitterness, and envy. He is devoid of peace and the body is affected and maybe even damaged. The person’s attitude affects the outer man.
6. Proverbs 15:13, 15, 30: these three proverbs highlight the inner and outer man link and vice versa. Verse 13 contrasts the person with a “happy” heat with one who has heart ache. Verses 15 and 30 describe how the outer man is affected by the inner man and vice versa – a joyful heart is a patterned heart like a feast and cheerful look brings to the heart and good news brings healing to the bones.
7. Proverbs 16:24: outer-man activities such as pleasant words generally flow from a pleasant heart.
8. Proverbs 17:22: inner-man “composure” – a cheerful heart – affects the outer man and others. A person’s inner-man condition and activity affects a person’s physical condition or perceived physical condition.
9. Proverbs 28:16 vs. 1:19: righteous and fair treatment of others is godly and healthy, while scheming and stealing leads to body problems.
10. Psalm 34:12-16: Right speech: guarding the tongue is tantamount to guarding one’s heart (inner and outer-man connection) – see James 3.
11. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Ephesians 6:1-4: honoring parents when motivated and applied with a proper vertical orientation is good for the parents and the child.

VI. God’s Call to every believer: Biblical Stewardship:

A. Pastor, church leader, and physician:

1. Determine what must you think, desire, and do in order to faithfully shepherd the flock in this area.
2. Once answered, what are you waiting for? Get busy.
3. Develop a plan to apply these principles and implement them.
4. Keep track of the results of your application.

B. Believer:
1. What are the ways that you must change in order to be God’s kind of theologian in regard to stewardship?
2. Perform a self-inventory addressing how you use your time, talents, activities, words, body, or money.
3. Make plans to apply the appropriate biblical and get busy applying them rejoicing as you do!