Business: Stewardship & Surrender

Stewardship and Surrender – Embracing a Life of Freedom

Too often, when we hear the word stewardship, our minds default to finances. However, stewardship has far more to do with surrender than Rands and cents.

Time to Reimagine

Are you willing to reimagine what stewardship means to a Christ-follower? Let’s begin by trying this thought on for size,

“Stewardship isn’t a subcategory of the Christian life. Stewardship is the Christian life. After all, what is stewardship except that God has entrusted to us life, time, talents, money, possessions, family, and His grace?”

Randy Alcorn challenges us with the idea that stewardship should not merely be an element of the Christian life; it is the very essence of the Christian life. Put differently, how would you (honestly) answer the following three questions:

Is Jesus ornamental in your life, or is He fundamental to your life?

Is it Jesus and everything, or Jesus then everything?

Is Jesus prominent, or is He pre-eminent?

When we bring together the ideas of stewardship and surrender, we find a powerful and transformative perspective on living out our faith. It is a mindset that recognises everything we have as a gift from God, prompting us to use all of our resources for His glory and the benefit of others.

Difference Between Slave and Servant

One of the challenges (and greatest journeys of discovery) in studying the Bible is building a bridge between the biblical context and our modern culture. For example, if we were to take the word “slave,” current associations with this word would yield a sense of permanent and brutal dehumanisation, carrying irredeemably negative connotations. However, slavery in the Old and New Testaments was often a temporary state that could lead to freedom. In fact, slavery was often voluntary and was not primarily racial but economic. Without modern social services, slavery was a means of helping people escape abject poverty by being purchased for a price and then cared for by their masters. There is a fascinating discussion featuring the ESV Bible Translation Committee debating the translation of the Hebrew and Greek words for “slave” (‘ebed and doulos, respectively) and how modern readers would interpret it.

 Ok, where are we going with this and what is the relevance to stewardship?

Without getting lost in the detail, the relevance of this subtle translation difference between servant and slave can impact the modern Christian’s understanding of stewardship. Many times when we read the word servant or bond-servant in an English Bible, a more accurate translation would be “slave.” Here’s the relevance. Servants are paid by the master but retain their independent status, only having specific duties and limited responsibilities. They can choose to “opt out” at any stage. Slaves, in contrast, are bought by their masters for a price. They have no rights of refusal towards their masters and function solely to serve their masters, not to fulfil their own desires. While servants can own property and build their own wealth, everything a slave does or may acquire is for the benefit of their master. Can you see the difference for a Christian between a servant versus slave mindset?

Surrendered Stewardship

The reality is that Christians have become slaves of God (Romans 6:22). And, our slavery is a voluntary choice! As we choose to forsake the eternal poverty of a sinful soul, we allow ourselves to be welcomed into the Master’s household, redeemed through the price He paid for us (1 Corinthians 6:20). We are not only placed under the care of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, we are entrusted with His resources and assigned responsibility to continue His business until He returns (Luke 19:11-27) – did you know this parable of the ten minas and the servants is actually a parable of the master’s slaves (doulos)? As faithful stewards, we can also look forward to embracing a state of complete freedom (and a reward) when our Master returns again.

This reimagined stewardship is enhanced by the surrender exemplified by being a slave of God. It involves relinquishing our rights, desires, and ownership, recognising that we belong wholly to our Lord Jesus. Our surrender allows God to work through us, shaping our perspectives, priorities, and actions in alignment with His will. This stewardship requires a transformed mind and heart. It starts with acknowledging that our lives, talents, time, possessions, and resources all belong to God. We are called to steward them faithfully, not as a hired servant but as a righteous slave. And, as we do, we open ourselves to lead a life of purpose, joy, and fulfilment.

Recognising stewardship not merely as a practical or financial matter but as a spiritual act of worship will liberate us to live a life of ever-increasing freedom. In Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul encourages Christ-followers to take their everyday, ordinary lives and place them before God as an offering, fixing their full attention on Him (sounds rather like the slavery we have been talking about).

What resonates in your heart about this type of fully surrendered stewardship? What is hard to digest?

What will a life of surrendered stewardship look like in your family and work life? How will it impact your money and possessions, your Church life, and devotion to the things of God?

Finally, rather than merely reading this post and forgetting about it, what one thing do you feel the Lord challenging you to do about what you have read?

 

 

References:

  1. The ESV Translation Committee Debates the Translation of “Slave.” (2011, November 7). The Gospel Coalition. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-esv-translation-committee-debates-the-translation-of-slave/