The word “steward” comes from the Anglo Saxon word “stig-ward” meaning “sty-keeper.” Originally the “steward” was employed to take care of pigs and cattle because at one time these were the most important sources of wealth for the Saxon landlords. Today, a steward is one entrusted with the management of the possessions or affairs of another. He acts on the behalf of his master. The most fundamental principle of stewardship is that God is sole owner of everything (Psa. 24:1). Whatever we manage for Him belongs to Him. The parable of the talents reveals some principles of stewardship we need to remember.
First, one’s ability determined the amount of goods entrusted to each servant. (Mat. 25:15). G.H. Lang said, “God does not put a lake in a bucket.” God gives according as He sees fit. Each served the Lord with what he had. The man who had more was responsible for more. We must never bemoan the smallness of our stewardship (2Cor. 8:12), but instead we should allow our limitations to move us to greater spiritual and moral activity. God does not reward for genius or brilliancy, but He does require faithfulness and devotion.
Second, each servant possessed full freedom in handling the goods entrusted to his care (Mat. 25:16-18). Acting immediately, the man with five talents and the man with two talents traded until they had doubled what they had. The man of one talent thought it was enough to do no harm (Lk. 19:20, 24-25). His problem was not over conscientiousness but slothfulness and selfishness. He took that which was not his and for the dread of losing it buried it for protection (Matt. 25:24-25). He did not actively injure his master’s goods but failed to turn it into profit. We must be wise to make the most of our stewardship (Lk.19:17). We should not trifle it away in idleness or waste it in sin.
Third, each servant accounted for how he handled his master’s goods (Mat. 25:19-25). Though away a “long time” the master expected fidelity. A “long time” is a curse and a blessing. While it gives unfaithful people time to repent, time also tests the faithful. Many start well but give out. Some do not start out as well but improve. A steward is one who is devoted to his master and is faithful to his trust. He will not abuse or violate it but desires his master’s approbation.
Fourth, each was required to show a gain, according to ability (Lk.19:15). The men with five talents and two talents doubled their amount. They were unalike in their talents, yet, alike in their trust and diligence to their master. Fidelity wins the master’s approval. Each made the very best possible improvement (Lk.19:17). Stewardship requires this tenacity and thoroughness.
Fifth, the reward was given to the servants who increased their talents (Mat. 25:20-23). Fidelity brought forth greater reward. The reward was beyond what they deserved. All of their labor and skill belonged to their master, thus, all their profits. The master might have stopped with this praise. Not this master; he rewarded his stewards by making them rulers over many things (Mat. 25:20). It is not the measure of the gifts we have that decides our station above but faithfulness in using the gifts we have. (Mat. 25:20-23). The use of our talents will determine what kind of stewards we really are. Some who have had few gifts outshine those more gifted because they are faithful in the use of what few gifts they possess.
Sixth, the servant who refused to use one talent suffered two great penalties. First, the talent was taken away. None of the Lord’s gifts will be lost. He takes care of what He entrusts because they are valuable to Him. Second, the servant was cast into outer darkness. There is no place in the Lord’s kingdom for useless stewards. This is why He takes us into His trust and tests us to see whether we really have faith in Him and love for Him.
“It is required of stewards that one be found faithful” (ICor. 4:2). How well do we manage our Lord’s time, health, opportunities, and money? We may cry we have too little, so why be so concerned with these stewardship principles? Fidelity does not depend on the amount entrusted to us but how we use what we have. The faithful man will be true to his trust, whether great or small. Faithful describes his character. Faithfulness depends on our sense of responsibility. Therefore, character and fidelity are proven by the stewardship entrusted to us. Therein is the gateway of our entrance into a larger trust.
by Rickie Jenkins