Christian Stewardship Top Title

Study Guide - Christian Stewardship

A Teaching on the Subject of Christian Stewardship

This series of four lessons is of vital importance for the Christian life because it highlights the very essence of the Gospel message - the fact that God loved us enough to send His own Son to die - the greatest Gift ever given. Everything that we need to live the Christian life has been given free of charge (2 Peter 1: 3-4). Without an understanding of giving, we can not fully understand the Gospel, nor can we expect to take on the attitude and nature of our new Father.

In giving, as in every aspect of God's character, Jesus is our example (Philippians 2:5) and our ultimate aim (Romans 8:29).

As we continue to seek ways in which we as Celtic Christians can emulate the ethos of the first millennium, it is essential to note that the Celtic people of God (emphasis on the Gospel of John) had two very important features that were not necessarily that of the Latin Church (emphasis on the Gospel of Matthew): Firstly, a life of family that was lived out as tribes or as we would understand it, communities. Individuals were not as important as was the group with recognition that each person played an important part within the context of the family group, and indeed the larger group, the tribe. As Christians, they understood that everything came from and belonged to God. They did not see things as objects to own. The land and the features of nature were to be cared for and made available to everyone. Their abundance was to be shared unselfishly with one another; those of the neighboring tribes, as the need became known and the ability to help was present; and a profound sense of generosity was expressed to those in the Monasteries and their Bishop. Second, and maybe the most important part, was that the heart, spirit, and mind was driven by love rather than obedience to a set of rules. It is within the context of these two points of understanding that these teachings are provided to that we can reap what we sow in a positive direction.

Chapter One:       God's Character
Chapter Two:       Stewardship
Chapter Three:    Principles of Harvest
Chapter Four:      Guides to Giving


"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness" Psalm 86:15 (see also verse 5; Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4:2).

God's nature has many beautiful characteristics, and these "character traits" are passed on by way of inheritance to everyone born into His family - in the same way a child takes after his natural parents. In 2 Peter 1:4 we discover that we have been called to "share in God's essential nature" (Phillips). The ministry of the Holy Spirit within us is to do a work of transformation so that we begin to mature spiritually, taking on the characteristics of our Father (Ephesians 5:1; 4:32; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36; see also Ephesians 3:16, 19-20). One of the greatest attributes of God's character is expressed in the well-known verse:

"For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only son..." (John 3:16).

1 John 4:16 says that "God is love", and we notice that God's love is always associated with giving. And His love was of such a high order that it could only be expressed in the giving of His most treasured possession - His Son (Romans 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:9-10).


"But mark this ...People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money ...without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God ..." 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (see also Romans 1:28-31; Philippians 2:21).

The character of the world is totally contrary to God's intention for mankind - for man was not created to please himself, but to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:8-10; Colossians 1:10). Since the unbeliever exists only on a natural level, these selfish desires are usually expressed in an unsatisfied longing for material possessions. The warning of the Lord is found in Luke 12:15:

" ...Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life doesn't consist in the abundance of his possessions."


The character of God has been declared to us in three ways:

In Creation

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without any excuse'" Romans 1:18-20 .

In God's word

The expression of God's loving character to the believer, as revealed in the Bible, is too wonderful for words. When we deserved judgment, Jesus died in our place. When we deserved a resounding verdict of "GUILTY!", God forgave and cleansed us. When we deserved rejection, God gave us life in His presence for all eternity as a free gift - with all the wonderful side-benefits that come with it (Ephesians 2:4-7; 3:14-19). This kind of UNDESERVED GIVING is at the very heart of God's nature and characterizes the lifestyle of His kingdom. We have been birthed into that kingdom (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28) and are now part of that lifestyle.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!..." 1 John 3:1.

In Jesus

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" Hebrews 1:3 (see also 2 Corinthians 4:4,6; Colossians 1:15).

In Jesus we find the perfect illustration of God's character. His words, His actions and His very reason for coming were all an expression of love, and as He walked upon the earth, he showed in great detail what the lifestyle of God's kingdom is all about. As the time neared for him to face the horror of the cross, He said to His disciples:"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The greatest expression of a giving heart is found in Jesus: He gave His very self.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8.


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge" Psalm 19:1-2 (read also verses 3-4).

Everything that God created was a display of His creativity and character - including man. Just as there are physical laws that govern the universe, without which there would be chaos, God has also put into motion spiritual laws which govern life - principles which are an expression of God's own nature. These principles, if kept, will reinforce a person's life; if broken, they will destroy him. We were made in God's own image (Genesis 1:26-27) and were designed to express the same principles that are contained in God's character.

One of these is the PRINCIPLE OF GENEROSITY - the principle that "whoever sows generously will also reap generously" (2 Corinthians 9:6). As evidence of their relationship with God, many people throughout Scripture displayed their Father's nature of generosity:

Abraham (Genesis 14:8-20; Hebrews 7:1-2).
Israel (Exodus 25:1-8; 36:2-7; 1 Chronicles 29:1-9).
Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
Early Christians (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).
Macedonian church (2 Corinthians 8:1-4).
Philippian church (Philippians 4:15-18; see also 1 John 3:17-18).

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:18 (see also Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19; Colossians 3:10).

Okay, we have seen something of the Character of God; we have contrasted the Character of the Kingdom of the World with that of the Kingdom of God; and learned about the principle of Generosity. Next we will explore the subject of stewardship. Stay tuned.


A steward is a person who has been given the responsibility of looking after something that belongs to somebody else (see the parables in Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-13). Spiritual stewardship is based on a conviction that everything we have in this life has been given specifically to benefit others, advance the kingdom of God, and glorify the Lord. Stewardship is the entering into a partnership with God.


As partners with God (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1), it is important for us to understand where our different responsibilities lie:

Ownership is with God

" ...Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth" Genesis 14:19 (KJV) (see also 1 Chronicles 29:10-14; Job 41:11; Psalm 24:1; 89:11).

All ownership is with God. Every single created thing, living or not, ultimately belongs to Him - including everything material or immaterial that we may personally have in this life - possessions, careers, families. He has given us all these things for us to enjoy, and when we realize that they still belong to God, we can rest in the assurance that God also has ultimate responsibility for them.

Stewardship is with us

We are not owners, but stewards who have been delegated special responsibility and are accountable before God for how we use the things He has given us (read Matthew 25:14-30). When we begin to see our Owner-steward relationship with God, then it becomes easy to give. Before God, stewardship covers every single thing that "belongs" to us:

Our life (Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 2:20; Job 33:4)
Our time (Psalm 90:12; Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5)
Our talents and abilities (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11)
Our possessions (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:1-2)
Our finances (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:6-10,17-19)
The message of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:1; 9:16-17; 2 Timothy 6:20)

Even so, many Christians still find it a struggle to give, no matter how much they may want to. But the key that releases a believer into the full responsibilities of stewardship is SURRENDER - the unreserved giving of one's entire life and purpose into God's hands. It is only when we give OURSELVES that we learn what it means to give of what we have.


"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…" Ephesians 1:18.

Hosea 4:6,14 says, "…my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge…a people without understanding will come to ruin!" One of the enemy's most effective weapons is to exploit a faulty concept or a gap in a believer's understanding and thus chain him when by right he should be free. There are two basic areas of ignorance that tend to block the act of surrender, and thus a full release in stewardship:


This is really an ignorance of one's own nature - for most people, self is the absolute center of every decision and action - and, sadly, this is also true of many Christians. The Lord has been added to their lives, but THEY are still sitting on the throne. But what we must realize is that we were not created to be self-centered, but to be centered in God. It is only when we are centered in the Lord that we suddenly discover that life is flowing WITH us rather than AGAINST us. This is because we are placing at the center of our lives the One who is by right the Center of everything!

"For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible ...all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold that in everything he might have the supremacy" Colossians 1:16-18 (see also Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6). Surrender, then, is not surrender into bondage and frustration, but into the freedom, blessing and fulfillment God intended us for!


A fear of surrender stems from a misconception of God's nature. Many have grown up in an atmosphere of insecurity, and this has often been carried over into our relationship with God. But, with the gentle encouragement of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see things differently. In the study of God's Word, we read about God's view of things, and we can look at the lives of those who have gone before us and see how God has proved Himself faithful (Hebrews 11; Romans 4:18-21). We begin to realize that God's love for us is even beyond our understanding (Ephesians 3:18-19), and that He really is in control of everything (3:20; 1:19-21). What has begun happening in us is simple: our mind is being renewed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24), and we are starting to look beyond our small horizons to a completely different viewpoint in God. Now we can declare with David that God "alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken" Psalm 62:2 (see also 61:2; 89:26).

This new understanding of God's nature is more than mere mental assent, but a conviction that is placed by the Holy Spirit into the very fiber of a person's being, burned in bold letters on his heart. It is a conviction so strong that one's whole life can be banked on it, because that life is now secure in Someone who cannot change or be shaken (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 12:28; 13:8). Because of this, surrender is not a step into an unsure future, but a surrendering into the Rock-solid security found only in God.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" James 1:17.


Surrender is a principle which should operate in our everyday lives. Every time a new truth, revealed by the Spirit, challenges an old way of living, surrender comes into effect. Surrender, however, on a daily level can only work once there has been an initial surrender of one's life to God - the giving over of the "throne" to God's Lordship. When there has been a once-and-for-all surrender, the day-by-day surrender comes easily. Our surrender to God confirms in our hearts the reality that:

God is faithful (Numbers 23:19; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:24)
The Word of God is reliable (1 Peter 1:24-25; Isaiah 55:10- 11)
We are in relationship with God (Matthew 10:29-31)
Faith is in operation (Hebrews 11:1)

Surrender is the gateway into everything God has planned for us. Like stewardship, however, it should not be an act of duty, but of love. "In view of God's mercy" (Romans 12:1; Titus 3:4-7), Paul urges us to present our whole selves to God. Against the magnitude of the price paid for our lives, it can be the only reasonable response.


"He who sows wickedness reaps trouble...A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor" Proverbs 22:8-9.

God has placed into operation certain laws, or principles, which outwork themselves both in the natural and in the spiritual. One of these is that of HARVEST. Many times, the Bible likens these spiritual principles to the natural harvest - just as there is a natural reaping of grain and produce, so there is a material and spiritual result of our actions in this life, whether for good or for bad. There are six basic facts about a natural harvest that paint a picture of how these principles work:


"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" Galatians 6:7-8.

The first basic principle of harvest is that there is no harvest without a seed-sowing. If you don't put something in, you won't get anything out. This applies to every single area of our life. In the light of this, spiritual harvest requires a plan, a time-program and the proper seed.


"Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed ACCORDING TO THEIR KINDS and trees bearing fruit with seed in it ACCORDING TO THEIR KINDS. And God saw that it was good" Genesis 1:11-12.

In the account of creation, God emphasizes that everything is to reproduce "according to their kind". The same principle applies in our lives. In the same way that a farmer cannot sow peas and reap potatoes, neither can we sow what is wrong and reap what is right, nor sow discord and reap unity; if we sow finance, we will reap finance; if we sow forgiveness, we will reap forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:36-37). "God cannot be mocked," Paul declares, for He does not turn a blind eye to what people do.


"Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days" Ecclesiastes 11:1 (NASB).

A farmer does not expect to receive a harvest immediately after he has planted the seed, but watches over the sown seed carefully, expecting to receive the harvest in a later season. Some people start to operate a new principle in their life and because they don't see immediate results, quickly give up.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" Galatians 6:9 (see also verses 7-10).


"....with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" Matthew 7:2.

The attitude a farmer has to his sowing determines the abundance of the harvest to come. Not only is it true that if he doesn't sow, he doesn't reap, but if he sows sparingly, he reaps sparingly. If he wants a bountiful harvest, he must sow bountifully. If he only cultivates one acre, he can only reap what one acre can produce. However, if one hundred acres are sown in, the harvest will be one hundred times greater. All of us can increase our spiritual harvest by increasing our sowing.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" 2 Corinthians 9:6.


"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" Luke 6:38 (see also Mark 4:24-25).

If this fact were not true, no farmer would ever sow, let alone expect a harvest. He assumes that sowing produces multiplication. The same principle also applies in the spiritual realms, and Jesus speaks of different measures of harvest - thirty-times, sixty-times and one hundred-times that which was sown (Matthew 13:3-8). Every good thing we do for the Lord is multiplied many times and returned to us. It is simply a principle that is in continuous operation.

'"I tell you the truth,' Jesus replied, 'no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them, prosecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life'" Mark 10:29-30 (see also Job 41:11; Romans 11:34-35).


The harvests of the past we can do nothing about, but this coming year's harvest we can. If we do not sow the best and first-fruits of our money, time and prayer-effort now, the coming harvest in our lives will be weak and sparse. We can determine the next season of harvest by the KIND of seed, the QUALITY of seed, and the QUANTITY of the seed which we sow. There are four types of harvest used as parables in the Bible which are affected by our actions NOW:

Harvest of spiritual things (Proverbs22:8-9;Galatians6:7-10)
Harvest of souls (Matthew 9:36-38; John 4:35-38)
Harvest of Material things
End-time harvest of good and evil seed
(Matthew 13:24-30,36-43; Revelation 14:15;
1 Cor.3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

To reap a harvest of finance and material goods, one must sow not only money but also a pure motive - a selfless love for others and for the Lord (1 Corinthians 13:3-5). God will then bring an increase that is not an end in itself, but an opportunity to give more.

"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 made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God" 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (read also verses 6-15).


Much of Jesus' teaching concerned the area of giving, for it deals with one of the basic issues of heart-motivation. Having a proper attitude as a foundation, Jesus emphasized that:

We must choose between earthly and heavenly wealth

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Luke 12:33-34 (see also verses 16-21; 16:13-15; Matthew 6:19-21; 19:16-24).

We should not give for the sake of reward

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" Matthew 6:2-3.

Our giving pleases God only when it is genuine

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything ...'" Mark 12:41-44.

Our giving determines our receiving

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" Luke 6:38 (see also Matthew 7:2; Mark 4:24-25).

Jesus constantly stressed that the motive behind the giving was far more important than the actual amount given. He pointed out that there are eternal rewards in heaven, but that if we give with the motive of getting back - either in praise or increase in riches, here or in eternity - we are still expressing nothing more than the character of the world. The lifestyle of giving in God's kingdom is selfless. The act of blessing others is reward enough.


"All believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need...No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had" Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32.

This basic attitude amongst the early Christians laid the foundation for every practical expression of giving that was later to come - that everything ultimately belongs to God.

The Church supported the needy

Special men were chosen to serve as "deacons" - helpers in the distribution of offerings and gifts for the widows and needy (see Acts 6:1-3). These men made it their ministry to channel all the giving to where there was practical need.

Churches gave sacrificially to one another

"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints" 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.

The Philippian Church supported traveling ministries

The Apostle Paul was traveling from place to place establishing new churches. On some occasions he worked with his hands to provide his own support (Acts 18:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9), but on other occasions he had to look to God in faith. The Philippian Church showed the true spirit of giving which God commends, by supporting traveling ministries such as Paul (Philippians 4:15-18).

Christians worked to give

"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need" Ephesians 4:28.

Giving was the proof of their love

"At the present time your plenty will supply what they need...Therefore show these men the proof of your love..." 2 Corinthians 8:14,24 (see also verses 7-15; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 1 John 3:17-18).


Willingly (2 Corinthians 8:12; Acts 20:35).
Generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Secretly (Matthew 6:1-4).
Like Jesus (Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:5-8).

We are responsible to our local church family in our giving (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Our regular giving will bring about supply for the needs of:

The shepherds over us (Galatians 6:6).
Traveling ministries (1 Corinthians9:6-12;Luke 10:7).
The needy within the church (Acts 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:3-16).

Five dimensions of giving are mentioned in the Scripture:

Hospitality (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:1-3; 1 Peter 4:9).
Alms (Proverbs 22:9; Matthew 6:1-4).
Tithes (Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Malachi 3:8-12).
Offerings (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
Sacrificial giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-4; Philippians 4:15-18).

A "tithe" is the separating of one-tenth of a believer's income to give to God's work - this already belongs to God.

Offerings come after tithing - the giving of surplus toward a need in the church family.

Finally comes sacrificial giving - this is the highest expression of giving because now it hurts the pocket. It was in the context of sacrificial giving the Philippian Church discovered a marvelous truth:

God is our source!

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19 (see also 1 Timothy 6:17, Hebrews 13:5-6).


The principles of stewardship must follow the Biblical principle of God's correct order. What would happen if the pastor paid attention to the congregation at the expense of his wife and family? We have all seen this happen more times than we would like. The proper order is to be completely submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ, then comes our spouse followed by children. Then and only then can we focus on our responsibilities at church followed by OUR ministry.

It stands to reason then that if we follow the above principle of order as prescribed in scripture and if we indeed put Jesus Christ ahead of everything, then it is obvious that our practice of stewardship must stipulate that we take care of our family of faith before the needs of the mission field beyond our local church. This is an especially important point. Many times people will see a good area of mission work on television or read about some good work somewhere in the world and neglect the support of their local church. If the church who are the people of God will follow the guidelines taught in this document, there will not be any want anywhere.

Dearly beloved, as you seek the Lord concerning your giving, prayerfully study the information taught here. Ask yourself the questions, am I trusting God?, am I in right order?, am I putting restrictions on the method and place of giving because I cannot see HOW God will take care of things future that I cannot see with my natural senses? Then, when you are certain that you know God's will for your giving, time, talent, and resources, say with a resounding "AMEN" and do it with a joyful heart. May the Lord bless your love of Him, your generous spirit, and your humility before our wonderful Lord in obedience to His Word.