Through seasons of scarcity and seasons of plenty, all of life is in God’s hands. He is the ultimate faithful steward, and knowing the faithfulness of God builds a foundation for our own faithful stewardship. God has entrusted to us everything that is in our care, and our love for God and for others should compel us to live rightly.
Stewardship is gratitude for the love God has shown us. Therefore, the decisions we make about our finances, bodies, minds, abilities, time, relationships, substance, positions, and how we share the gospel are all a response to God’s faithfulness.
Our bodies are essential to experiencing life in this world. Our relationships with our bodies are storied—they tell the stories of our lives. With our body we experience pleasure—the taste of a warm cup of coffee, cool air blowing through our hair in a fall breeze, a first kiss. With our bodies we also experience pain. And as we grow, we even refer to aches and soreness as “growing pains.”
This tension between pleasure and pain, experienced in the body, is part of the human experience. According to the Hebrew Bible, the beauty and the hardship of life in the body began a long time ago, in a garden.
“Isn’t it strange that we seem to think salvation only applies to our heart and soul? We assume that our mind needs to change very little, when in fact every aspect of it needs to change," affirmed Calvin Partain. Faithful stewardship of the mind means acknowledging that “each of us is a steward/manager of our own mind.” This means that while mental tapes may play—the desire for self-aggrandizement or the desire to punish those who have hurt us—we are to take those thoughts captive.
We can choose to turn the tape off, instead adopting the advice Paul gave to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8 ESV). Thinking about things that are true, good, and that praise God can help us “renew” our minds (Rom. 12:2).
And while God’s voice frequently comes in ways that defy common sense or convenience, we need look nowhere more extraordinary than our own lives to see that God’s voice is trustworthy and true. Every call to use our abilities and gifts is a call to follow Jesus. When God calls us to follow Him in this way, He will gift us with His presence and the ability to serve well. However, if we pursue only those things of which we’re certain and confident, we will miss the blessing of following God into the unknown. Taking a risk—saying yes to something we’re scared to say yes to—is one way we discover God’s faithfulness. But this requires that we do the hard thing. This requires that we do the thing that scares us.
If God truly is the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), then God is just as present with us in our sleeping and our waking, in our shuffling papers and in our driving home, in our rocking our children to sleep and in our bowing our heads to pray. Faithful stewardship of our time means when we travel with God, we always travel “to the right somewhere.” When we pay attention to the God who indwells us, God will begin to help us, in the words of Partain, to accept God’s agenda wholeheartedly.
From cover to cover, the Bible makes one thing abundantly clear— God is relational. God desires a relationship with us, and God cares about our relationships with others, too. The commands to love God (Deut. 6:5) and to love neighbor (Lev. 19:18) are built into the fabric of the Hebrews’ life with God. This dual command is reinforced by Jesus, who acknowledges its centrality within Jewish law and its life-giving nature (Luke 10:25–29). And in the high priestly prayer in John’s Gospel, Jesus sums up God’s intentions for relationships: “That they may be one, as we are one” (John 17:11 NRSV).