I. LORD GAVE PEOPLE AUTHORITY OVER THE EARTH
. . . God said to them [Adam and Eve], “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it . . . ” (Genesis 1:28).
“You make him [man] to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6).
The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth He has given to the sons of men (Psalm 115:16).
“What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angles; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:6-8).
A. PARABLE ILLUSTRATING LORD GIVING PEOPLE AUTHORITY OVER HIS POSSESSIONS
For it [the kingdom of God] is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them (Matthew 25:14).
II. OUR POSITION AS MANAGER (STEWARD)
A. EXAMPLES OF MANAGERS (STEWARDS)
Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned. . . (Genesis 24:2).
So Joseph . . . became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. And it came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph. . . he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate . . . (Genesis 39:4-6).
. . . his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:7-9).
. . . I [Paul] have a stewardship entrusted to me (1 Corinthians 9:17).
III. MANAGERS (STEWARDS) HAVE CERTAIN RESPONSIBILITIES
A. RECOGNIZE LORD AS OWNER OF POSSESSIONS AND TRANSFER OWNERSHIP TO LORD
All those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need (Acts 2:44-45).
The congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each as any had need. And Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles [which translated means, Son of Encouragement], and who owned a tract of land sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:32-37).
1. Must give ownership of possessions to Lord to be a disciple
Not one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions (Luke 14:33).
2. Leaving everything to follow Lord results in blessings
Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you. . . everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27-29).
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:28-30).
And Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes, and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents of children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:28-30).
3. Examples of leaving everything to follow the Lord
And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him (Mark 1:20).
When they [Peter, James, and John] had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:11).
After that He went out, and noticed a tax gather named Levi, sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and rose and began to follow Him (Luke 5:27-28).
4. Parable illustrating leaving everything to follow Lord
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matthew 13:44-46).
B. BE FAITHFUL
. . . it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV).
1. Blessings of faithfulness
A faithful man will abound with blessings. . . (Proverbs 28:20).
For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes (Matthew 24:44-46).
a. Blessed with a more intimate relationship with God
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master’ (Matthew 25:21).
b. Blessed with more responsibility
And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’ The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master’ (Matthew 25:20-23).
. . . By your standard of measure it shall be measured to you; and more shall be given you besides. For whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Mark 4:24-25).
The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions (Luke 12:42-44).
He [Jesus] said therefore, “A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back. . . when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. And the first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities. . . he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him [unfaithful slave], and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Luke 19:12-26)
2. Cursed for unfaithfulness
But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:48-51).
For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one. . . he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. . . the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten talents.’ For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:14-30).
But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes (Luke 12:45-47).
He [Jesus] said therefore, “A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back. . . when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. . . another came, saying, ‘Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’ By your own words I will judge you, you are a worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ And he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Luke 19:12-26).
a. Example of unfaithful steward
Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the stewardship, they will receive me into their homes.” And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, “How much do you owe my master?” And he said, “A hundred measures of oil.” And he said to him, “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.” Then he said to another, “And how much do you owe?” And he said, “A hundred measures of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill, and write eighty.” And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light (Luke 16:1-8).
C. BE OBEDIENT AND SEEK THE LORD
1. Blessings of obedience and seeking the Lord
Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God . . . will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give to you (Deuteronomy 7:12-13).
However, there shall be no poor among you, since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. For the Lord your God shall bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend money to many nations, but you will not borrow. . . (Deuteronomy 15:4-6).
. . . if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl . . . The Lord will command the blessings upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to . . . the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow . . . if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do (Deuteronomy 29:9).
Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground . . . if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 30:9-10).
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you. . . (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).
And keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn (1 Kings 2:3).
Only the Lord give you [Solomon] discretion and understanding . . . so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you shall prosper, if you are careful to observe the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord commanded Moses. . . (1 Chronicles 22:12-13).
. . . observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God in order that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever (1 Chronicles 28:8).
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).
How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you (Psalm 128:1-2).
b. Examples of obedience and blessing
For he [Hezekiah] clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went he prospered . . . (2 Kings 18:6-7).
For he [Asa] said to Judah, “. . . The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered (2 Chronicles 14:7).
And he [Uzziah] continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him (2 Chronicles 26:5).
[Hezekiah] did what was good, right, and true before the Lord his God. And every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered . . . (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).
And you will defile your graven images, overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing; and say to them, “Be gone!” Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous . . . (Isaiah 30:22-23).
2. Curse of disobedience and not seeking the Lord
. . . if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock . . . A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors (Deuteronomy 28:15-18, 33).
So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things . . . as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiple you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it (Deuteronomy 28:45-48, 63).
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity . . . if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you will surely perish . . . (Deuteronomy 30:15-18).
And whoever will observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death of for banishment or for confiscation of goods . . . (Ezra 7:26).
a. Examples of disobedience and cursing
So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Astartes. And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them . . . (Judges 2:13-14).
Then a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet saying, “Thus says the Lord God of your father David, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel . . . the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives, and all your possessions with a great calamity . . . the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians; and they came against Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions found in the king’s house . . . (2 Chronicles 21:12-14, 16-17).
Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you’” (2 Chronicles 24:20).
You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. For our kings, our leaders, our priests, and our fathers have not kept Your law or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonishments with which You have admonished them. But they . . . did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds. Behold we are slaves today, and as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its boundary, behold, we are slaves on it (Nehemiah 9:33-36).
For the shepherds [leaders of Israel] . . . have not sought the Lord; therefore they have not prospered. . . (Jeremiah 10:21).
“You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil, and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened,” declares the Lord God. . . I shall also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare (Ezekiel 16:17-19, 39).
Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the Lord. “You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the Lord of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands” (Haggai 1:4-11).
But now, do consider . . . when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty. I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to Me, declares the Lord (Haggai 2:15-17).
D. TRUST IN THE LORD, NOT OURSELVES OR POSSESSIONS
1. Blessings and prosperity for those who trust in God
. . . How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments . . . wealth and riches are in his house. . . (Psalm 112:1, 3).
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, honor and life (Proverbs 22:4).
. . . he who trusts in the Lord will prosper (Proverbs 28:25).
2. Consequences of trusting in ourselves and/or our possessions
He who trusts in his riches will fall . . . (Proverbs 11:28).
Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes his flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes . . . (Jeremiah 17:5-6).
For because of your [Moab] trust in your own achievements and treasures, even you yourself will be captured (Jeremiah 48:7).
How boastful you [Ammon] are about the valleys! Your valley is flowing away, O backsliding daughter who trusts in her treasures, saying, `Who will come against me?’ Behold, I am going to bring terror upon you, declares the Lord God of hosts (Jeremiah 49:4-5).
IV. WE ARE GOING TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR MANAGEMENT (STEWARDSHIP)
For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them . . . after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them (Matthew 25:14, 19).
. . . Give an account of your stewardship . . . (Luke 16:2)
Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it . . . I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne . . . and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books according to their deeds (Revelation 20:11-12).