In the last 30-40 years, I believe the American church has done a poor job of laying a strong foundation for Biblical stewardship. There are a number of reasons for this, but this is not within the scope of this particular blog post.
Fortunately in recent years, other ministries and programs such as Crown and Dave Ramsey have come alongside the church to assist pastors and lay leaders in laying a strong Biblical foundation regarding money and stewardship.
When it comes to Christian finances, I believe there are several key, foundational principles that every Christian should know and understand.
The following list contains my top five foundational stewardship beliefs.
5 Key Stewardship Principles From God’s Word
- God owns everything. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is the foundational belief upon which the whole concept of Christian stewardship (or management) rests. We either completely believe that God owns everything in the universe (including all of the stuff in our current possession) or we don’t believe this truth. Plus, how we live our lives and manage these possessions demonstrates if we really believe in God’s ownership or not.
- Christians are managers (stewards) of ALL of God’s stuff. 1 Corinthians 4:2 tells us “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” After we come to grips with the first belief, then this second belief should be a natural outflow of the first. If God truly owns it all, then the stuff I currently possess was given to me by God Almighty to manage for Him. As a result, I am compelled to do an excellent, faithful job so that He receives an incredible return on investment!
- Kingdom living should be our priority. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Once we understand that God owns it all and we are simply managers of His stuff, then our only concern should be expanding His Kingdom on earth while we are here. Our budgets, expenses, purchases, and investments should all be filtered through a Kingdom mindset. The question that should be continuously on our mind: “Does this use of money truly build up God’s Kingdom and make an impact for eternity?”
- Debt is unwise. Proverbs 22:7 reads, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Although the Bible never states that debt is a sin, it does make the claim that it is unwise and dangerous. If you are a Christian who thinks debt is just a normal, everyday reality in today’s economic climate, then can you truly say with 100% authority that having debt honors God and His Kingdom? I would argue that it doesn’t. I believe that our personal businesses, families, and churches should all strive to be debt free as soon as possible in order for our focus to truly be on God’s Kingdom work.
- Our giving should be percentage based. Check out Hebrews 7:2a, and 7:4-9 “and Abraham gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything … Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham … ” The tithe (10%) is a great starting point for people to learn and grow in their generosity journey. I understand that a lot of Christians are not in agreement with this statement. But, if you take a comprehensive view of Scripture, including Old Testament (pre-Law and Mosaic Law) and New Testament (as stated in this NT passage from Hebrews), almost every mention of money and giving had a percentage attached to it. Why? Common sense would tell us that we don’t all make the same amount of income. Also, monetary types and values vary widely throughout human history. Percentage-based giving makes more sense according to the concept of “to whom much has been given, much more will be required” (Luke 12:48b).
Questions: If you are a Christian, how do you handle your money and possessions? Do you hold to the Biblical truths in these five principles above, or do you struggle with a carnal, worldly view of your finances? Do you think this list of five principles is comprehensive enough, or would you add or subtract anything from this list?