The term "stewardship" has become more common these days, in church language and beyond. We hear about environmental stewardship, which refers to a responsible use and protection of nature or the environment, through conscientious conservation of energy or resources and sustainable practices.
Stewardship is understood as "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care" (Merriam-Webster). In the ancient world, the manager of the masters' property was the steward, the "oikonomos" (Greek word, from which we get the words “economy” and “economics”).
In biblical language, stewardship is about "utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation" (Holman Bible Dictionary). In Christian stewardship understanding, we are called to be God's faithful stewards in his work of creation, redemption, and sanctification.
St Paul said, "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1). The "mysteries of God" means the truth about God’s plan to save the world through Jesus Christ.
St. Peter said, "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace" (1 Peter 4:10).
Parishes these days encourage their members to be good stewards of God's gifts of time, talent, and treasure. We are blessed with those gifts in order to share with our loved ones, with others, with the community. It means we don't use all we have been given on ourselves, but also for others. In the Jewish
Tzedakah (just, righteous giving) tradition, even a poor person is expected to give to someone who is poorer than him.
What's more important is, what we share (time, talent, treasure) will help our parish to carry out the mission entrusted to us by God in this part of the world. The parish doesn't rely on a fee, but on your generosity. It's a collective work.
Jesus himself and his disciples were supported financially by several women, who provided for them out of their resources (Luke 8:1-3). Even his spectacular multiplication of bread and fish depended on the generosity of a boy, who shared five loaves of barley bread and two fish.
- - - - - - - - - - -
An interesting article to read: "Funding Jesus: Who bankrolled Christ's ministry?" by Michael McKinley and David Gibson, special to CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2015/03/31/living/funding-jesus-ministry/index.html
is commonly misunderstood. It's not just about getting out of debt or sticking to a budget. It's much more than just writing a tithe check every month.
Andrew Murray summed it up this way: The world asks, "What does a man own?" Christ asks, "How does he use it?
Larry Burkett described it like this: When we surrender every area of our lives, including our finances, to God, then we are free to trust Him to meet our needs. But if we would rather hold tightly to those things that we possess, then we find ourselves in bondage to those very things.