Tithing and Stewardship

One of the things a true steward does is make sure all aspects of the financial relationship are in place and functioning as they should.

Tithing is part of a much larger biblical concept called by many people today “stewardship.”  Until fairly recently, the term stewardship was not used much in the contemporary world outside of churches. More recently it has become a major theme of books about management in both business and nonprofit organizations.

“The term steward is misunderstood and even foreign in our society. We do not have any terms in our modern vocabulary that carry the richness of this term. Caretaker fails to capture the responsibility laid on the steward. Manager seems inadequate to describe the relationship between the owner and the steward. Custodian is too passive a term. Agent is too self-serving in our day. Ambassador is too political, and it lacks the servant aspect. Warden is too administrative and loses the sense of the personal. Guardian is too closely tied solely to parental responsibilities.”1

In order to truly understand what Jesus’ hearers understood Him to mean, we need to put all of the above together: a steward is responsible for managing the owner’s resources, has a close relationship with the owner so that she knows what He wants her to do with them, is active, not passive in her role, is not self-serving, serves humbly and personally, and does guard her Master’s assets, but not in a parental way, that is to say, makes the decisions the Master wishes, not the ones her own wisdom would suggest, like a parent would.

One of the things a true steward does, is make sure all aspects of the financial relationship are in place and functioning as they should. If we are to be good stewards for God and His church, then we’re going to want to be sure the operation of all the ministries carried out by the church—including making sure there are pastors for churches—is properly funded.

The tithe is one key element in this funding process. It is not the whole story, but it is an important way that God inspires us to be more fully engaged in what He is doing in our communities and in the world as true stewards of God.2

1. R. S. Rodin, Stewards in the Kingdom (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 27.

2. Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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