Bible study lesson 23 - Stewardship
Purpose: Everything belongs to God. As stewards we are responsible to Him to manage what He has entrusted to us in a way that glorifies Him.
Theme: Jesus Christ gave all for us and calls for us to be fully surrendered to Him.
Bible verses to read:
- Matthew 25:14-30
- Psalms 24:1-2
- 1 Corinthians 6:20
- Proverbs 22:7
- Habakkuk 2:5-6
- Luke 14:28-30
- Proverbs 21:20
- Leviticus 27:30
- Genesis 14:18-20
- Genesis 28:18-22
- Malachi 3:8-10
- Numbers 18:21-26
- 1 Corinthians 9:13-14
- Luke 6:38
- Mark 10:17-31
- 2 Chronicles 16:9
Have you ever given much thought to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30? You may be familiar with the story and the lesson Jesus is trying to teach, but have you thought how much money a talent of gold is worth? In today's currency, a talent of gold would be worth over two million dollars! The servants in the parable were actually entrusted with vast sums of money from their master!
In today's lesson we are going to talk about stewardship. All the resources we have are God's possession and He expects us to manage them well to get an increase that will bring glory to Him. God expects growth. Jesus doesn't care how much you bring in or return to Him. He answers and rewards in the same way. We are all accountable to God for the resources He entrusts to us.
What is God's property? Let's turn to Psalms 24:1-2.
- According to these verses, what belongs to God?
- Answer (highlight to read): The earth and all its fullness
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 6:20.
- Answer: We were bought with a price.
Let's turn to Isaiah 58:13-14.
- According to these verses, is the Sabbath a day that we can do whatever we want?
- Answer: No
The Sabbath is a day that does not belong to us. It is a day for us to delight ourselves in the Lord. I can you from experience that it was hard for me to initially keep the Sabbath, but in stepping out for God, I have been very blessed. I hope that you feel the same was as I do about the Sabbath now. God will reward you for your decision to follow Him and honor Him. By your decision to honor the Sabbath, you are already being a steward of God!
Let's now talk about some principles of money management that the Bible gives us:
- Get out of debt
- Live within your wage
- Get on a budget
Let's turn to Proverbs 22:7.
- According to this Bible verse, who is servant to the lender?
- Answer: The borrower is the servant to the lender.
Let's turn to Habakkuk 2:5-6.
- Answer: Woe to them who try to make themselves rich with them that is not their own.
Let's turn to Luke 14:28-30.
- According to these Bible verses, why is it important to count the cost before one builds a tower?
- Answer: It is important to count the cost unless one finds that they cannot finish the tower and then face ridicule from others.
Let's turn to Proverbs 21:20.
- Answer: He squanders his resources.
Let's turn to Leviticus 27:30-32.
- According to these Bible verses, who does all the tithe belong to?
- Answer: All the tithe belongs to the Lord.
In Hebrew, the word for "tithe" literally mean a tenth. In the same sense that the Lord claims the world and us as His through creation, He claims a tenth of the increase of the land for Himself. The tithe is holy to the Lord. This tenth of our income is holy and He claims the tithe as His property.
God wants to free us up to be a giving people free from debt and burden. He has set up a system by which we can practice and develop this principle. Let's look at two example of people who were in a covenant relationship with God who recognized that there was a financial obligation to God, even before the Levitical system in Moses' time was set up.
Let's turn to Genesis 14:18-20.
- According to these Bible verses, what did Abraham give to the priest of God?
- Answer: Abraham gave him a tithe of all.
To put these verses in context, several kings came into Sodom, raided and plundered the city, and took Lot and his family captive along with others from the city. When Abraham heard this about this, he went with his trained men after those kings. Abraham and his men were able to recapture the plunder and rescue Lot and his family. Abraham refused to keep all the plunder, but instead kept a tenth of it and returns it to Melchizedek, the priest and king of Salem, who blessed Abraham.
In Genesis 14:18-20, there is no reference to a definition of what the tithe was. These verses show that a Biblical person would have had awareness of what tithe was. This is the first example in the Bible of giving tithe on income. These verses shows us that tithing of income was part of a spiritual life and custom. Abraham was a friend of God and felt that it was his duty to tithe a tenth of his income back to God.
Let's turn to Genesis 28:18-22.
- According to these verses, what did Jacob vow to give to God?
- Answer: Jacob vowed to give a tenth to God.
The idea of the tithing system was already understood to be a part of the practice of the followers of God before Jacob even became Israel. Jacob recognized it to be a part of his covenant relationship with God.
Let's turn to Malachi 3:8-10.
- According to these verses, how has man robbed God?
- Answer: Man has robbed God in tithes and offerings.
The use of the word "rob" in the English has the connotation that you have taken something by violence, force, and intimidation. "Will a man rob God?" - can you imagine this, going up to God and forcefully taking something from Him? Refusal to return tithe to God is a serious offense. It is not something that He takes lightly.
God has set up the tithing system for us to participate in order to develop our characters and as a part of the conditions of us being in a covenant relationship with Him. Our offerings are an opportunity for us to express how thankful we are for those blessings that God has given to us.
- According to Malachi 3:10, where is the tithe to go to?
- Answer: The storehouse
In verse 10, the pivotal word is "storehouse." This is the place we are to bring the tithe. The phrase "My house" shows that it was the temple. The tithe was to be used for ministerial purposes so that the people engaged in full time could eat, etc. The Scriptural precedent was for the tithe to be brought to the ministerial center of the community - the temple (which would be the church today).
When God says "try Me," He is basically saying, "If you put forth your effort, I will put forth Mine."
Note that it is a blessing, not a burden to tithe. I can tell you when I first stepped out in faith and decided to faithfully tithe a tenth of my income to God, I wasn't sure if I could make ends meet. However, I could tell you now several years later since that commitment, I have been blessed with so much by God, both financially and spiritually!
Let's turn to Numbers 18:21-26.
- According to these Bible verses, what does God give to children of Levi in return for the work they perform?
- Answer: All the tithe
The Levites were men in full0time ministry and could not support themselves through earned income elsewhere. God wanted a system to be put in place so that these people could be supported. This text also shows us that the Levites were also called to give a tenth of what they received also.
God provided a system to support people engaged in full-time ministry.
You might be asking yourself at this point, is the principle in the Old Testament only? Is tithing seen in the New Testament?
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.
- According to these Bible verses, what is Paul speaking about?
- Answer: Tithing
Paul speaks clearly of the Old Testament teaching about tithing and goes on to say that ministers of the gospel should be maintained in the same way by the maintenance of the tithing system.
Remember, everything belongs to God and tithe should be brought into His storehouse (church). Can you outgive God? The more you are willing to give, the more God will give back to you!
Let's turn to Luke 6:38.
- According to this verse,what happens if you give?
- Answer: It will be given back to you in good measure.
God is not going to shortchange us - He is ready and waiting to bless us and He is a GIVER. Think about how good God has been to you in the past.
Let's turn to Mark 10:17-31.
- According to these verses,why did the rich go away from Jesus sorrowful?
- Answer: Jesus asked him to give up his possession, take up the cross, and follow Him.
Jesus knows our struggles and sees that the issue of this man was material possessions. God sees the opportunity to separate His child from the idol he was a slave to. Jesus offers him a place with Him always as His follower. However, the man passed up his opportunity for salvation because of his attachment to material things. The man ended up going away sorrowful, but he wasn't the only one - Jesus was sorrowful, too.
Jesus is making the same call to you and me. There is no one who has left something for God who God will not bless a hundred times over now in this time! This is a present-tense blessing! This is not simply a blessing in the financial context - the blessing will be in all things now and to come in eternal life.
The man passed up his opportunity for salvation because of material things and ended up gong away sorrowful…but he wasn’t the only one to go away sorrowful- Jesus was sorrowful too.
Everything we give up for God, He is ready and waiting to give us even more. He is waiting to satisfy us in ways we cannot describe, if we wouldjust simply recognize that EVERYTHING belongs to God.
Let's close the lesson with 2 Chronicles 16:9.
- According to this verse, who is God looking for?
- Answer: God is looking for those whose heart is loyal to Him.
My friend, God is searching to and fro for people who are fully sold out for His cause. This is not just about money. God wants your whole heart and wants to use you to be a witness and blessing to others. Will you give your heart wholly to God and become a faithful steward to glorify Him in all that you do?