What does it take to become a good steward? The term is referenced in the Bible, but its meaning far extends beyond simply money. It has to do with the heart. Here's an excerpt from Jim Minor's book, Church Shouldn't Suck The Life Out Of You, on stewarding God's way.
At one point in His ministry, Jesus was asked whether it was right for God’s people to pay taxes to Caesar. (See Matthew 22:15–22.) This gets right to the heart of the issue, which is: How should we handle money? Today’s churches struggle with money issues more than anything else. They deliberate over such questions as these: Should we add a new program? Should we make a new hire? Should we construct a new building? Should we increase our missions giving?
To answer the question about taxes, Jesus turned the inquiry around, forcing the questioners to examine their own hearts. He said, “Show Me the tax money.…Whose image and inscription is this?” (Matthew 22:19–20). When they replied that the money bore the image of Caesar, Jesus instructed them to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. (See Matthew 22:21.)
How do we know what belongs to Caesar? We know it does if it bears his image. That which bore Caesar’s image had the power to buy things in the kingdom of Caesar. It was the currency of the Roman Empire. If you wanted a donkey or a home or food, you simply had to take care of your money. That which bore the image of Caesar worked in the economy of the natural world, and even though the style of coin has changed, that truth still applies today. Take good care of your money, and you can enjoy all the things that money can buy.
But there was a second, more important, part to this story: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). How do we know what belongs to God? Again, we know because it bears His image. And what is it that bears God’s image? It isn’t a coin or a mountain or a lake or even the stars of the sky. God put His image on something to declare that it belonged to Him—He put his image on mankind. Humanity bears the image of God. (See Genesis 1:27.) In the same way that taking care of that which bears Caesar’s image brings you purchasing power in the kingdom of Caesar, taking care of that which bears God’s image brings you purchasing power in the kingdom of God.
Caring for God’s people racks up credit in the economy of heaven, where the world’s financial rules no longer apply. Caring for God’s people allows us to operate under an open heaven.
Let me give you an example. Eureka is the lady who heads up our Free Indeed food ministry. One of the many local organizations we support is an orphanage called Everyday Blessings. We typically provide them with food on a weekly basis.
One Thursday, Eureka came to me and said, “Pastor, [some people from] Everyday Blessings are here, and they are asking for things that we don’t normally give them—things like toilet paper and napkins and paper towels. We have only enough of that stuff for the church to use. If I give it to them, we won’t have any for the services this weekend.”
I told Eureka, “Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to go into the pantry and give them everything we have. Don’t worry about what the church has or doesn’t have. Let’s just bless them. Give it all.” Then I took her hands in mine, and we prayed and giggled a little bit, and said, “Let’s just see what God does.”
I was scheduled to be out of town for the weekend, so I went ahead and left.
When I returned on Monday, Eureka couldn’t wait to talk to me. She told me that on Friday, she had received a call from someone saying he had some stuff he wanted to give to the church, but someone would need to bring a truck to pick it up. (Man, don’t you love it when people say that?) Sure enough, when she got there with the church’s box truck, the gentleman had a couple of pallets of—guess what?—napkins and toilet paper, enough to wipe every mouth and bottom in all of Sarasota County.
Sometimes, when God tells us to give freely, we think that it contradicts His message of being a good steward. It doesn’t. Being a good steward of God’s money simply means spending it when and where He says, rather than when and where we think we should. We don’t push a roll of toilet paper on everyone who walks in our door, but when the people from Everyday Blessings showed up, one thing was certain: God had already revealed His vision for us to care for them. The fact that they came to our door and asked lined up perfectly with God’s vision—so we didn’t hesitate. We moved forward in His vision, and He provided the provision.