Bible Passages on Stewardship

Bible Passages on Stewardship

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

THE BIBLE ON STEWARDSHIP: Some key passages for use in Bible study, sermon preparation, stewardship training and theme selection. These passages are from a broader selection that appears in Inspiring Generosity, a stewardship resource from the United Church of Christ.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18.  The wealth or "abundance" of our lives is a gift, not just a given. That is, no more than with life itself do we have this as something we can earn or deserve. It is not entitlement but blessing in which others are meant to share.

Deuteronomy 16:17.  All shall give as they are able, according to the abundant blessings the Lord our God has already and graciously blessed us with.  

Psalm 24:1-10.  The Temple or house of God welcomes and celebrates the truth that God's kin-dom or "realm" includes the entire earth and all that is in it, including us; God's love embraces all of life. This sovereign love "lifts up" us all, and any denial closes the doors on God's presence and prevents us from sharing in the divine blessing of life. "Be lifted up, O ancient doors!" (vv.7, 9)

2 Samuel 24:24.  Knowing the quality of life made possible by the power of God, David is not about to give less than his best–something possible for all of us, and irrepressible when we know our own blessing. He is not about to make an offering to God that, in effect, costs him nothing.

1Chronicles 29:1-19.  About the giving required to build the temple, the house of God. “For all things come from you, [O Lord,] and of your own have we given you.” (v. 14b) Leaders must “walk the talk,” letting their own generosity be an example and inspiration to others.

Malachi 3:6-10.  God’s house–in those days, the temple– was the place from which the produce, the abundance, of the land was redistributed. Dereliction in fulfilling one’s rightful “tithe” upset the harmony that alone could assure prosperity in the land. Restoration of this commitment will issue in “overflowing blessing” for all. (v. 10) Don’t let argument about “tithing”–giving a tenth of annual giving–upstage the main point about giving, its motivation and outcome: generosity comes from an experience of “abundance,” the blessing of which is literally lost unless shared with others, and impossible to gain alone.

Matthew 6:19-21. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (v. 21) Faith and money are two sides of the same coin. Where the one is, the other is also. We easily pretend otherwise, making faith immaterial or money unspiritual. Please pay attention to the order in this verse as it is very often misquoted. Treasure is listed first and one's heart goes where one's treasure is.  Jesus does not say, "where your heart is, there your treasure will be also."

Matthew 14:13-21 (see also Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14). Jesus feeding the five thousand with “nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” (v. 17) Often thinking we don’t have enough, we fail to see and take seriously what we already have. It is from what we have, not what we don’t, that we find what we need...and then some!

Luke 12:13-21, 48. The parable of the rich fool is clear: life’s abundance does not consist in possessions. Those who “store up treasures for themselves” (v. 21) become victims of anxiety, always wondering if they have enough. Real security is found–and the true richness of life experienced--not in guarding what we have but in giving what we can. “Abundance” is not a private possession but a shared experience.

Luke 16:1-13.  Easily confusing, this parable of the shrewd steward is also provocative. It emphasizes the importance of being astute in using possessions so as to gain rather than lose one’s future. There is no way to acquire money that is pure and perfect, unsullied by questionable means and motives. That should not become a pious excuse to avoid responsibility for its wise use.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2.  The word rendered “servants” means, literally, “under-rowers.” The figure is that of a ship impelled by oars under the command of a captain. “Stewards” as “servants [or ministers] of Christ” labor under the inspiration of the truth about life–“God’s mysteries”–disclosed in Jesus. Their most important quality, given the challenge involved, is fidelity, faithfulness–staying true to the cost and joy of an understanding of life at odds with prevailing sensibility. (See Isaiah 40:29-31 and Matthew 11:29-30).

2 Corinthians 8:1-15.  "Abundance" is not a function of good times; a "wealth of generosity" can "overflow" even "during a severe ordeal of affliction" (v.2).  It is the "genuineness of love" in response to the joy of life made known in Jesus Christ that makes us eager to give" according to what one has -- not according to what one does not have" (v.12). Also emphasized (see vv. 13-14) is the equality between givers and receivers whereby those who "receive" give as generously as those who "give," and neediness proves an illusion next to actual abundance in which all share.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15. God provides "every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work" (v.8). There is no need to "sow sparingly " and, hence, "reap sparingly." We can "sow bountifully" and "reap bountifully" (v.6), "enriched in every way for [our] great generosity" (v.11).  

Galatians 5:22-23a (NRSV).  “Abundance” is the truth about life made known in the spirit or disposition of Jesus, the driving force of the church. So Paul says in these verses that “generosity” is part of the “fruit” of the Spirit. It is impossible to turn on the lights of greater giving when the power is off...or low. Morale, or what the church calls Spirit, is “the power that turns on the lights”–and the number one stewardship challenge!

1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19. God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (v.17). God wants us to be happy! To "take hold of the life that really is life" (v.19) is to experience abundance as a gift to be shared. It is no private possession and beyond anything we can earn or deserve. Being rich or having money is not "a root of all kinds of evil", but rather "the love of money" (v.10). That love fuels insatiable desire, makes for unhappiness, and reduces the blessing of life to something we must gain rather than seek to share.

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