What does stewardship have to do with worship? Everything. Stewardship is essential to worship. One cannot exist without the other.
In the Old Testament, the most basic act of worship—presenting an offering to be sacrificed to God on the altar—was about what people gave to God, not the other way around. Every Old Testament act of worship, personal or corporate, was Godward, not manward. The nature of worship does not change in the New Testament. But our focus of worship has shifted. We rate the service by how much we get out of it. We have forgotten that worship is more about what you offer to God than what you receive fromGod. Stewardship is worship.
In the church I grew up in, stewardship was defined narrowly— giving your time, talents, and treasures. These three aspects of stewardship are the truth, but not the whole truth. Stewardship is more than how you spend your money, manage your schedule, and use your gifts. It is total-life stewardship. All of life is a sacred trust for which you must give an account to God.
The bottom line of Christian stewardship can be stated in four words: God owns it all. David audited God’s assets and reported God’s portfolio: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).
“Stewardship is essential to worship. One cannot exist without the other.”
Everything we possess belongs to God. We have one duty to the God who has richly given us all things to enjoy: “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). Why should we live faithfully? Paul answers, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Stewardship is about much more than financial offerings. It involves every facet of life. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” This call to worship involves more than Sunday service. It calls for devotion to the Lord on a day-to-day basis. It is life worship, not just lip worship. What does it mean to worship God with your life?
Time is life. We live our lives confined to the passing moments of our brief time on this earth. That time passes fast. It is vital that we make the most of every opportunity. This doesn’t happen through time-management techniques or time-saving technologies. It only happens by a high view of God. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was never in a hurry, but He always had the time to do God’s will? We are always in a hurry and rarely have time to do God’s will. We worship God by being good stewards of the time He has given us. Pray with Moses: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
Did you know your relationships are a gift from God? I know it may not seem that way with some people you have to deal with. It’s true, nonetheless. Difficult people are providentially placed in your life for your sanctification. The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23) is cultivated in the soil of relationships. Messy relationships. You are not responsible for how people treat you. But you are responsible for your role in your relationships. To be a faithful steward of your relationships, focus on your character and the other person’s needs, not vice versa.
Many people think their problems would be solved if they had more money. They fail to realize the critical issue is rarely how much they have, but what they do with what they have. We worship God by being faithful with the money He entrusts to us. Jesus said,
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:10–13)
Paul asked the Corinthians, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). Strive to be healthy. This involves treating your body as a temple in which God dwells, not sacrificing your body on the altar of society’s idolatrous fixation with physical fitness, sex appeal, and cosmetic beauty. Christian diets, workout regimes, and fashion tips are not what the stewardship of the body is about, though stewardship does include proper care of our bodies. Strive for holiness. Paul advised Timothy to “train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:7b–8).
Words are powerful. They are like nitroglycerin: they can either blow up bridges or heal hearts. No wonder God places such a premium on the words we speak. God is listening to the words we say. And that is not limited to the words of praise we sing in church. In everything we say, our words are either offerings of worship or tools of the enemy. Solomon warned, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Prov. 10:19). Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36). And Paul admonished, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
Spiritual gifts are a confusing and controversial subject. But the New Testament is clear about two principles: (1) every Christian has received at least one spiritual gift, and (2) we are accountable to God for the proper use of those gifts. Peter instructs, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). The New Testament does not tell us how to discover our spiritual gifts. It emphasizes all Christians are gifted and orders us to use our gifts for the good of others and the glory of God.
Christian service is essential to our understanding of Christian worship. When we worship corporately, we do not gather to be served by others. God has gifted us to serve others and will hold us accountable for the stewardship of our gifts.
After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus said to the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The word witness translated the term from which we get our English word martyr. We typically think of martyrdom in reference to those who die for their witness for Christ. In the New Testament, the term also refers to living witnesses. Paul writes, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). This is not just the task of New Testament apostles. It is the task of all Christians.
Christ has called us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13–16). Our worship and our witness go together. Live, serve, and witness in unwavering faithfulness to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” at the final inspection (Matt. 25:23).
by H. B. Charles, Jr.
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