Bertha Adams died on March 30, 1975. She lived alone in a small, one bedroom apartment in New York City that was pest and rodent infested. As people began to close her estate they discovered that Bertha Adams had over $799,000 in cash, stocks, and bonds. Bertha Adams didn’t have a money problem. She had a stewardship problem. She thought the possessions of this life were to be held and hoarded, not cycled and passed on.
The word stewardship evokes a lot of emotion. When we hear it bells ring and bulls charge. I think there are three reasons stewardship bothers us:
1. We mistake stewardship with money. We see the word and the first S is a $! But the issue of stewardship is not just money. It includes everything that has been entrusted to us: our talents, abilities, time, and relationships.
2. We misunderstand the meaning because the term has been misused. Stewardship is not about giving, its about managing. You can only give what you own. The Bible reveals that we own nothing. Isn’t it easier to give what isn’t yours? Stewardship is not ownership, its management.
3. We think possessions are permanent when they are transient. Job 1:21 says, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away” (NLT).
Several years ago, John McGullis and his girlfriend Phyllis borrowed $1,800, then stole two $100,000 paintings from his father. They held them for a ransom of $20,000. They then used the $20,000 to hire a hit man to kill his father so he could inherit his $25 million estate. There’s a story like that in Matthew 21:33-41.
“Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same. “Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him. “When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?” The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”
This week I’m going to post some truths about stewardship from Jesus’ timeless parable. Thanks, as always, for checking in, and thanks for sharing this site with others.