Stewardship for Life
We live in a world of financial bombardment, facing solicitations and appeals on almost a daily basis. How are we to respond to all the requests for funds? What do we do when faced with an appeal for our money? What principles has God given us to help us control what we do with our finances?
Many would say that we respond emotionally. Professional fund-raisers know that if they’ll push the right emotional buttons, they can successfully solicit money. Certainly our emotions ought to be involved in our giving, but when we examine the multitude of opportunities brought before us, there must be a better way to decide what we’ll distribute.
Fortunately, God has given us His wisdom. The Word of God speaks often about the concept of “stewardship,” a much-talked about word that most people do not understand. “Stewardship” is a concept that goes way beyond spending money—in fact, the use of money is a very small part of what it means to be a steward. In New Testament Greek, the word “steward” referred to either a slave or free man who was given household responsibilities, either as guardian of children or administrator of affairs. Every household of wealth and distinction had a steward, and he was in charge of the estate, often functioning as the manager of financial affairs and holdings.
The Hebrew word translated “steward” in the Old Testament was ben-meshach, which literally means “son of acquisition.” In Genesis 15:2, Abraham uses the word to refer to Eliezer as the “steward” or “heir” of his house. Eliezer, the trusted steward, was the one who represented Abraham in all of his dealings. That’s why, in Genesis 24, Eliezer was given the assignment to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. A careful reading of that chapter reveals several important insights regarding the work of a steward.
First, notice that the steward was accountable for his master’s domain. In verse 2 of chapter 24, Eliezer is described as the servant “who ruled over all that he had.” Eliezer was responsible for everything that belonged to Abraham. In verse 10 we read that the servant took ten camels from the herds, all his master’s goods were in his hands.” Eliezer had authority over Abraham’s herds, but with that authority came accountability.
Second, it is clear that the steward was available when his master needed him. When Abraham called Eliezer to give him a special assignment, the servant was at the disposal of his master. As the steward, Eliezer was to do whatever the master required of him.
Third, note that the steward was anxious to know the master’s will. When he was given the assignment to go into the far country and find a wife for Isaac, Eliezer requested additional information. He wanted to make sure he got the right woman! He talked it over with Abraham, to make sure he had the will of his master in his own heart. It is important to keep that principle in mind, for when God gives us something to do, He is never offended when we come to request more information in order to obey Him well.
Fourth, the steward was allegiant to his master. Verse 9 tells us that Eliezer “put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.” Of course, the servant was committed to his master already, but no one who is committed will be offended when asked to affirm his commitment. Occasionally I have had people in churches complain that they don’t like writing out “commitment cards,” but my experience has shown me that people who don’t like to affirm their commitments usually are not committed! If I am committed to my master, I’ll happily affirm my commitment. So Abraham’s servant eagerly agreed to commit himself anew to this particular assignment.
Fifth, it is clear that the steward was agreeable to his master’s bidding. Verses 12–14 record Eliezer’s prayer, in which he asks for guidance and grace in fulfilling his master’s desires. A true steward not only administrates the affairs of another, he does it with a deep desire to reflect his master’s will.
Finally, the steward attributed praise to his master. In verse 35, after locating the family of Isaac’s future bride, Eliezer spoke of the greatness of his master, and you can sense his pride and excitement in his words. He was thrilled to be able to faithfully serve Abraham, and he wanted to tell his new friends about the greatness of his master. Eliezer is the kind of steward every business owner wants to find—one who will manage it on behalf of the owner, while reflecting the owner’s hear
David Jeremiah, Giving to God: Study Guide (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001), 10–11.