I was thinking recently about stewardship: the belief that all we have is actually God’s, and we have a sacred duty to manage that in a way that would honor Him.  [Check out some additional thoughts on stewardship here.]

As I was thinking about it, I wondered where we could see stewardship modeled for us in Scripture.  We see the principle articulated and taught (see Psalm 24:1, James 1:17, Matthew 25:14-30), but where do we see examples of real people who were good stewards of what was entrusted to them?

Scripture teaches us a number of ways.  One of those is through explicit commands, e.g. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Another way is through stories of exemplary people, from which we can learn things that help us understand principles.  For example, the story of Daniel in the lions’ den teaches us to stay faithful and trust God in the midst of difficult circumstances and persecution for what we believe.

So where do we see examples of stewardship modeled for us in Scripture?  This line of thinking launched me into a study of how we see stewardship in Scripture.  I was preparing for a two-part post, but I can’t fit all of these stories into one or two posts and do them justice.  Instead, I’ve decided to write a multi-part series on Stewardship in the Scriptures.  I’ll review multiple stories in the Bible where we see examples of stewardship modeled for us in action.

Each post in this series will include one story or example of someone who was a good steward of what was entrusted to him.  I’ll discuss the application of the principles and how we can relate that to our lives.

To set the table, the first story that we’ll cover today won’t be an actual person, but the character whose behavior helped establish the principles of stewardship.  That person?  The Good and Faithful Servant.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable of a man who went away on a long journey. Before leaving, he called his servants together and entrusted them with different sums of money to care for while he was gone.  One received five shares, another two shares, and another received one share.

The first servant invested the money he received wisely, and doubled the money.  Verse 21 says, “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!'”

Likewise, the second had doubled the money entrusted to him, and received the same response.  But the third servant, out of fear, hid the money in the ground and did nothing with it.  The man was not happy with the servant, and he took the share from that third servant and gave it to the Good and Faithful servant, who now had ten shares plus one.

The parable wraps up with this: “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance.  But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

The original Good and Faithful Servant modeled for us what kind of behavior we should emulate.  He was entrusted with something.  Throughout this story, nothing he received ever ceased to be property of the master.  As we saw with the third servant, the master could take or direct shares as he saw fit, but the master found a Good and Faithful Servant, and entrusted him with more.

This story is a foundational story for the doctrine of stewardship.  Whatever we’re given, it’s not ours.  It remains a gift, entrusted to us.  Whatever we’re given, we are to use it well and wisely.  Our money, time, talent, abilities, life station, family, assets, etc. are all to be cared for well and used wisely.

Many of us hope, at the end of the race, when we give our final report, we can say, “Look, you gave me this, and I’ve done this great thing with it!”  And then, after the master judges our efforts, we hope to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”