Author: Rachel Kidd
Paul’s teaching about Christian stewardship
Money is a tense subject, something that causes arguments and fights in nearly every relationship. Having too much or too little can put a strain on even the healthiest marriage, and poor money management can lead to immense stress.
Some pastors even avoid the subject of money altogether in hopes of avoiding this tension. But, good stewardship and understanding of money is an important factor in spiritual wellness. Paul and his ministry provides us with a clear picture of how to teach about money and what good stewardship is in a Christian context.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
In 2 Corinthians, Paul provides us two of the greatest chapters in the bible on the subject of stewardship. An adept salesman with keen diplomacy skills, Paul persuades Gentiles to give to a collection to benefit persecuted Jews In Jerusalem and Judea. Paul had incredible empathy for these particular persecuted Christians, as they were the primary targets for his own crusade against the church prior to his conversion. While Paul’s ministry was primarily centered on Gentiles, like those at the church in Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossi, he was able to raise an impressive collection for the persecuted Jewish Christian community.
Paul holds up the giving patterns of the Corinthians, or the Maccedonians, to the Phillipians as an example of faithful stewardship. He tells us about the principles that should be involved in our stewardship.
Primarily, he says that we must give ourselves to God. Paul did not accept monetary gifts from non-believers on principle, he only accepted gifts from those who were faithful. He asserts that you must keep in the will of God in order to further the will of God.
As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. –2 Corinthians 9:9-13
Paul also says that giving should be of our own volition. He emphasized the importance of giving only when the Lord leads us to, rather than at the coercion of a pastor or spiritual leader. We give because we love Him, because we are grateful for what He has done for us, and because we are full of joy and want to give back to Him. Our motivations should be love and gratitude, joyfully giving back to God a portion of what He has given us.
It may seem difficult to imagine giving joyfully when you are not financially blessed. Maybe you are struggling, much like the Phillippians in poverty. They gave out of their severe poverty in a time of trials. Paul says that their giving was based on what they had, not what they did not have. God blesses us with money as He sees fit and with whom He can trust us with. If you have little now and do not tithe 10% as commanded, then you will not give more if you had more.
Paul explains that our gifts are not measured by their size or worth, rather on the attitude with which we give. Paul called giving a “grace” because we are enabled to give by His power and blessings on our lives. It’s proportional to what we have, not to what we could have. All that we have is God’s, we are simply stewards of it, called to further the kingdom of God with our wealth. When we give freely to God what He has given to us, God responds to our good stewardship. God provides for us and makes sure that we have all we need. When we give of our own volition in joy, God sees us and blesses us in return.