The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Of the three things a person is not to talk about in polite company – religion, politics, and money – the church is called, in one way or another, to talk about all three. Perhaps this is the reason why teaching about stewardship often seems to be an afterthought. It’s something that happens only out of necessity when financial constraints are already nipping at the heels.
There is a more excellent way. Stewardship shouldn’t be the kind of teaching that comes up only when there is a financial crunch. It should be part and parcel of the ongoing instruction of Christians as they live out their faith in their vocations – members of their family, their society, and their church. This teaching touches upon every facet of our lives; it stakes a claim upon our time, our presence, our prayers, and our possessions.
Stewardship begins with the acknowledgment that we are stewards. A steward is a manager of someone else’s possessions. In Christian stewardship, we recognize, according to the Apostles’ Creed, that God is the owner of all things as the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. And in His fatherly divine goodness and mercy, He gives us what is His to manage here below.
The principal virtue for stewards is faithfulness. As St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:
“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2)
Stewards must manage that which belongs to the owner according to the owner’s wishes. That is what it means to be faithful in stewardship.
That raises a question: How are Christian stewards to be faithful in their managing of what God has entrusted to them to manage? In other words, what are the specific duties of a Christian steward?
This depends upon what God has revealed in His Word for each of our vocations in life as those in a family (fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children), society (governors or citizens), and the church (pastors or laity). The Table of Duties from Luther’s Small Catechism lays this out in helpful and orderly way.
Let’s look just at what the laity (hearers as it is labeled in the catechism) owe their pastors:
“In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:14)
“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:6–7)