Tag Archives: Salary

An Introduction to Stewardship

9 May

Last week in “Our Effort or God’s Gift” we explored the idea that our income is not the result of our hard work or superior education. Rather, our paychecks are a gift from God. And they are a gift which we are expected to handle wisely. Indeed, Jesus declared that, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Luke 12:48) This week, we’ll be exploring this concept of stewardship with a bit more depth, beginning with the parable of the talents.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells His disciples a story about a wealthy businessman who, before leaving on a long journey, decided to commit portions of his fortune to his servants. To one, he gave five talents of gold, to another two, and to another one. It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t distinguish between the servants. He doesn’t tell us what roles they held within the household or how hard they labored on their master’s behalf. In fact, the only distinction between them is the amount of money that the master left in their care.

Upon his return, the master found that the first servant doubled the value of his investment. The second servant, likewise, made a return on the rich man’s money. The third, however, took the path of extreme caution. Opting for a “low-risk investment”, he buried the gold and returned it to his master exactly what had been given. (Though, perhaps, a bit dustier than it had been initially.)

Jesus goes on to explain the master’s pleasure with both men who, despite the disparity in what he had given them, gave him a good return on his investment. The third man, however, didn’t fare quite so well. He had done as little as possible with the resources entrusted to his care and reaped the “reward” due a lazy steward.

The passage ends on a theme quite similar to that of Luke 12:48: “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29) The moral? God’s gift to us doesn’t just consist of a paycheck, but of His trust that we will handle that paycheck well.[1]

Indeed, with money, just as with everything else, we are merely stewards – those who handle wealth on behalf of another. And God is clear that, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Next week, we’ll dig a bit deeper into the concept of stewardship. Meanwhile, feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas in the comment box below!


[1] We have chosen to focus on the monetary aspect of this passage, but it is important to note that the concept of stewardship extends to every area of our lives: our time, our skills, and our physical resources.

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Our Effort or God’s Gift: Where Does Money Come From?

2 May

My dad is a hard worker. He always has been and I expect that he always will be. He grew up with a traditional Protestant work ethic that demanded a day’s work for a day’s pay. And he firmly believes that good, honest work (even if it doesn’t pay much) is never beneath the dignity of a real man.

I watched him live out his beliefs on a daily basis, but at no time were they quite as impactful as that winter. Due to cutbacks, his good government job had come to an abrupt and unanticipated end. Unemployed and with mouths to feed, he did the only thing his sense of duty would allow: he took a minimum wage job. It wasn’t long before he was able to add a couple more and I watched as he faithfully showed up on time for each. He wasn’t getting much sleep, but he was supporting his family.

What stood out the most to me that winter, however, was that I never once heard Dad complain either about the odd hours he was working or about the low pay he received. To be honest, I can’t say as much for most of the folks I know. I, myself, have been known to complain about the disparity between the amount of work I put in and the amount that I get paid. Yet this highlights an important point: long hours and hard work don’t yield the same results for everyone.

A close examination of income disparity reveals a startling fact that there is very little connection between the amount of work (either hours in a shift or actual physical effort) a person performs and the number of zeroes on their paycheck. Nor is there a universal connection between the type of work we do and the income we receive. (If you don’t believe me, take a look at the difference between what your family doctor makes and what a missionary doctor gets paid.) Work, it seems, doesn’t create or, for that matter, guarantee cash flow. (If you still doubt me, just ask any stay-at-home mom!)

But if money isn’t the result of our efforts and education, where exactly does it come from? While an economist would argue that it originates with banks, the Bible would tell us that it’s a gift from God. Ecclesiastes 5:19 states that, “for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” Moses explained Israel’s trials saying that they had been for an express purpose: “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:17–18) And the Apostle James reminds believers, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

So what exactly does this mean for those who are busting their tails working odd shifts at odd hours for low pay just like my dad did that difficult winter? It means that they’re in the same boat as those with high wages and cushy 9-5 jobs. Who employs us, the hours we work, and the wage we are paid are, to a large degree, irrelevant. We are all recipients of God’s gift… and each of us, regardless of the magnitude of that blessing, is responsible for using it well.

God, Our Job, and Our Wallet

25 Apr

I’m pleased to state that my initial response to my need for speed (or at least for a vehicle that didn’t guzzle gas) was the correct one. I took my bank statement to God and presented it to Him complete with a detailed account of the current fuel prices, available work hours, and the cost of health insurance. I pointed out that He had led me to believe that I was to live debt free and asked that He provide for my need. Since I was already putting the matter before Him, I thought I’d also tag on a few extra requests. “And if you wouldn’t mind, Lord, would you please make my new vehicle a little white pickup truck with four wheel drive and air conditioning.”

Two days later, there it was, sitting beside the road: a little white pickup truck with four wheel drive and air conditioning. Price tag? $2,200. Since I had cash on hand, I was able to talk the owner down to $2,000 and used the remaining $200 to purchase a truck box and a new radio for the cab. I knew that God wasn’t just meeting my need; He was making a point. He didn’t need my salary in order to provide for me.

Jesus commanded His disciples, “do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.” Then He asks, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-33 NASB)

The truth is that it can be difficult to see life from this perspective. After all, our jobs give us a place to work, work produces money, and money produces… well, stuff. Or does it? Is it possible that God really does provide for our needs not just through our paychecks, but also independent of them? Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at what the Bible has to say about our income – where our financial resources come from, how we should use them, and why the money we get from our jobs should not be the driving force behind what we do or how well we do it. In the meantime, feel free to share your own stories about God’s provision in the comment box below!

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