Stewardship in God’s Economy

by Morris Ruddick on June 29, 2012

STEWARDSHIP IN GOD’S ECONOMY

© Morris E. Ruddick

 

“To the steward who brought increase he said, well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many.”  Matthew 25:18

The parable of the talents addresses stewardship. The expectation is to manage whatever resources we’ve been assigned each according to his own ability, and then to bring increase. The servant who was afraid and hid his assets in order not to lose anything was not only judged, but judged as being wicked. Why?

The answer lies within the dynamics that incorporate the model, the mandate and mantle God designed for His people. https://strategicintercession.org/2012/04/the-mandate-model-and-mantle/ Those known by His Name have been entrusted with a power and authority. It is a righteous power and authority that distinguishes us from the world.

As such, we are not called be or to operate like “everyone else.” As God’s people, we are called to be distinctive, to operate at a higher standard. Scripture tells us that the wisdom of Daniel was ten times better than the best the worldly advisors in the king’s court could offer.

Since God has had a people, those known by His Name have been a light to the surrounding societies because of God being with them. Within a fallen world, described by scripture as ruled by the bondage of corruption, the story of God’s people has again and again been one of breaking the constraints of the curse that grips the world; and directs the way it thinks and employs power. Those called by God’s name have a mandate to exercise righteous power, to overcome evil with good, and as the head and not the tail, to rule over the works of His hands.

In short, we’re called to steward not only our individual gifts, but as a people to make a difference in the world around us through our active participation in the model that drives God’s economy and the mantle of being blessed to be a blessing.

The Mind-Set and Process
When approaching stewardship within God’s economy, it’s important to have a resource mind-set rather than a focus restricted to the monetary. The monetary will be there, but the monetary is only a part of the equation and needs to be the servant rather than the end-purpose, as the bigger-picture is engaged in an interaction of human, financial, community and spiritual capital and resources.

Balanced stewardship of establishing God’s Kingdom rule and authority involves daily communication and cooperation with God, as His stewards. Within that context is the mandate of God’s people to establish His authority described from Genesis to Revelation as dominion.

Foundational to this mandate is a mature grasp of God’s Word and of hearing and obeying His voice. It is a process that evolves over time for both individuals and generations that employs the model that merges the spiritual in building community through the dynamic of God’s economy. The result of this process applied is the reversal of the bondage of corruption and the establishment of God’s Kingdom rule. The process of stewarding this mandate and mantle employs strategic ways of thinking and operating.

Discipline and Diligence. The hallmarks for the stewardship for spiritual maturity, leadership and a genuine role in God’s economy are disciple and diligence. They go hand-in-hand. Discipline and diligence yield fruitfulness. Proverbs 16:32 reveals that: “The one who rules his own spirit is mightier than he who takes a city.”

Stewardship reflects the focus of diligence that results in excellence.
“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds.”
Prov 27: 21

Your Calling and Sphere. It’s important to accurately grasp and wield what one has been called to do. However, that grasp must be combined with the humility and wisdom of being a faithful steward within the context of the sphere of authority functioning at a given time. Joseph the Patriarch served within his sphere of authority he had as a slave in Potiphar’s house and then as a prisoner. Those steps of stewardship were significant to opening the doors of opportunity to his being called before Pharaoh.
“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.”
Prov 18:16

“But we will not boast beyond measure, but within the sphere which God has appointed to us.” 2 Cor 10:13

A Hedge against the World’s System. Hedges against a dependency on the world’s system range from being debt-free and self-sustaining private business ownership, to creating a resource cushion beyond the system.
“You will be in the world, but not of the world.”
John 17:15, 16

An Eye for Value. The process of stewardship requires an eye for value, in both what you offer and what you acquire. Developing excellence carries the requirement for an eye for value for the things that drive the uniqueness of a particular business.

Wisdom in Priorities. The wise steward pays the costs in prioritizing agendas in the process of building a business and serving the community.
“Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house.” Proverbs 24: 27

God imparts information, wisdom and insights to His covenant people. The process involves faithfulness in taking care of what you already have and investing in not only improving efficiencies, but the skills required in key functions.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.”
Isaiah 48:17

Alert to Business Cycles. Just as there are cycles and seasons in nature, so there are cycles in business. Some of these cycles are unique to an industry; some are driven by fiscal issues at governmental policy levels. In each case, the wise steward understands and is prepared for the changes in business cycles. Understanding the cycles is key to expansion.
“I know how to be abased and I know how to abound.”
Phil 4:11

The Dynamics of Stewardship
Stewardship within God’s economy begins by fully embracing the Lord as your Senior Partner. Again, that involves actively seeking His guidance on decisions based on a mature wisdom of the truths found in the Word of God. It also involves mentoring and minion-style support group participation which will be discussed in a future post.
“The earth is the Lord’s and all of its fullness, the world and those that dwell therein.”
Psalm 24:1

As junior partners, our stewardship involves the management and increase of the resources noted in the opening scripture with which, in each of our spheres, we are entrusted.
“The silver and gold is Mine, says the Lord of Hosts.”
Haggai 2:8

The key dynamics of stewardship in God’s economy include

  • The faith-gift of sowing and reaping
  • Managing money and resources
  • Bringing increase.

Sowing and Reaping
In God’s economy, stewardship begins with a generous heart that puts into practice what scripture describes as “sowing and reaping.”

The dynamic of sowing and reaping begins with understanding that God is the source of our supply. He is the one we depend on; not a job, nor the world’s economy. Isaac sowed in famine because God told him to and against the odds, he prospered.
“My God shall provide all your need according to His riches in Glory.”
Phil 4:19

So, by first acknowledging God as the source of all increase, we then sow by giving. Again, the mind-set should extend beyond simply the monetary, to include our time, our gifts and our wisdom.
“Give and it will be given unto you, good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete, it will be measured to you again.”
  Luke 6:38

As we first look to God as our source and are generous with what we have to give, we can then expect His intervention in bringing increase.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.”
  Luke 11:9

“I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  1 Cor 3:6

One of the more successful business people we have had opportunity to work with in persecuted lands told us an amazing testimony. At the time he met the Lord, he was so poor, that he didn’t even have a bicycle, which is considered a sub-standard mode of transportation in his society. Someone gave him a Bible. In his initial reading of the Word of God, he was gripped by the truth in Genesis 12 that God would bless those who blessed Israel. From the meager, piecemeal work he had at the time, he began giving to his congregation AND to a ministry in Israel.

Within three months, he had a new, full-time job. So he increased his sowing. From his new job, he learned a new skill and three years later, he started his own business. He worked hard at his new business and took great joy in sharing the increase with the poor, his congregation and opportunities for blessing the believers in Israel. Five years after the start of his business, he has crews of people working for him and not only owns his own home, but has helped build a home for his pastor.

Another unique story about sowing and reaping involves a man whose testimony began during WWII. Robert LeTourneau, committed Christian and business owner, began having unusual dreams that he began to discern were from the Lord. These dreams outlined designs for a new mode of earth-moving equipment.

This man of God captured what God was showing him and began manufacturing these new designs of earth-moving equipment. Their implementation was used to build runways on military airbases in the Pacific that accelerated construction ten times faster than previous equipment, giving the Allies a significant advantage.

Robert LeTourneau went on to become renowned for his generosity in the support of an array of Christian initiatives. It began when he made the decision to increase his faithfulness in tithing to a level of 25 percent. When he did, the volume of his business experienced a significant increase. At another interim in the meaningful work he was doing, he increased the ratio of his giving even more; again with another leap in both new opportunity and the volume of business activity. After another three increases in the ratio of his giving, he was at the level of giving 95 percent of his profits to Christian work. Toward the end of his life LeTourneau was quoted as saying: “you can’t out-give God.”

Managing Money and Resources
Moses instructed God’s people, as a people to not only do what was right, but to LISTEN to the voice of the Lord. In Exodus 15:26 it says: “When you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, when you pay attention to His direction…” then the people of God, as a people would bypass the curses and bondages impacting the world around them. Stewardship in God’s economy pivots on this premise.

Two previous posts addressed the issue of planning with the help of the Holy Spirit. Planning and budgeting are the means to manage and control the use of our finances and resources. To download a copy of the Weekly Financial Report we use in our entrepreneurial program, click on the link at the following site: http://strategic-initiatives.org/pages/publications/WeeklyFinancialReport.htm
“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds.”
Prov 27: 23

Moreover, as you seek the Lord and mature in listening and obeying His guidance, He will speak “an idea, a concept, an opportunity or wisdom” that will be direction you need to act on. Then, from obeying the voice of the Lord will flow increase.

In Genesis 31 Jacob acted on a dream God gave him. He negotiated wages with Laban based on the sheep (streaked, spotted) that he saw in the dream. The scripture says “thus Jacob became very prosperous.” After using his boat to teach the people, despite Peter having toiled in that very spot all night, Jesus told Peter to “cast out into the deep.” The nets became so full of fish that they began to tear.

Joseph’s prophetic gift made room for him. Yet, it was his faithful stewardship while as a slave and prisoner that gained him the reputation that resulted in his promotion. When Joseph was put in charge, he knew what had to be done. While serving Pharaoh, but as God’s good steward, he oversaw the largest wealth transfer in the Bible. Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt, coordinating, setting up and preparing for the time of famine.

Bringing Increase to Your Resources
The application of tz’dakah generosity with sound management of resources will serve as the catalyst in bringing increase. The mixture of godly service and attitude enhances the process of bearing fruit.
“In sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord, whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.”
  Col 3:22-23

Work. Work is the cornerstone of God’s Economy. The passion of one who seeks excellence and enjoys what they do spills-over into producing a long-term customer and community impact. With purposeful work will come growth.
“Let our people learn to maintain good works (fruitful occupations).”
Titus 3:14

Cast Vision. Tied to the passion of excellence is the specific purpose the good steward has to be blessed to be a blessing. Key to Joseph’s stewardship at each level in his tenure in Egypt was his clear identity in God. From that, Joseph cast vision based on his prophetic gift and his calling. He was God’s faithful ambassador at each step.

Creativity and Resourcefulness. The most significant part of entrepreneurship (to identify opportunity and know what to do) will come from God’s creative direction and unlimited resources.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘when you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand.’”
Exodus 4:21

Enterprise: Buy and Sell. Establishing independence within God’s economy by starting a business is the mark of trusting in the Lord and good stewardship. It is a process of building through buying and selling.
“Buy and sell until I return.”
Luke 19:13

Undervalued Assets. Jesus explained a key dimension of the Kingdom through the business truth of the one who has the wisdom to recognize and take advantage of undervalued assets. It reflects the priority to be given in response to the level of timely opportunity, when one identifies a true, undervalued asset.
“The Kingdom is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he found one particular pearl of great value, sold all that he had and bought it.”
Matthew 13:45-46

Miracles. Miracles are God’s provision apart from any other source. When stewardship in bringing increase has faithfully employed every step from work to enterprise; in God’s economy there can be the expectation of His periodic supernatural intervention. It cannot be overlooked that Jesus used Peter’s gift as a fisherman to provide the miracle he needed for the unexpected tax requirement.
“When Peter needed to pay taxes, Jesus told him: ‘Go fishing and the first fish you get, take the gold coin out of its mouth.’”
  Matthew 17:27

The Authority from Faithful Stewardship
Dominion comes through faithful stewardship over time. It represents an authority and favor that overcomes in the face of the spiritual climate of a world held in the bondage of corruption. It is the means by which we mobilize believers in lands of persecution to operate against overwhelming odds of adversity. It is the Kingdom mandate by which we employ righteous power in overcoming evil with good.

When tz’dakah-level charitable righteousness is combined with a community that listens to the voice of the Lord, what lies ahead will be a pathway primed with supernatural opportunity. This dynamic is punctuated by the story of a unique Russian congregation we imparted our God’s economy program to in early 2007.

In a community 800 miles from Moscow, a group of Christians purchased and took possession of the tenth most significant historical site in all of Russia. It is a palace once owned by Lenin. This congregation, birthed in the mid-nineties, is extremely active and has made its mark in its community by serving.

They have made a difference with social programs where government programs have not. Among their outreaches in serving their community has been an effective drug-rehab center, a medical outreach and a prisoner rehab program that have transformed those they ministered to into active, model citizens. Despite the authorities still carrying an anti-Christian bias held from years past, when it came to approval of this congregation’s purchase of this former palace, now a community center, the word was that the decision was based on “give them whatever they want, they’re doing so much good.” As good stewards, they are paving a pathway of opportunity for the Kingdom, by being blessed to be a blessing.

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