Basic Principles of Stewardship

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

To be stewards for Christ is a clarion call to all Christians. It is a call for us to unrattle our egocentric worldview to think about others, and to help those who are in need of our time, talent, and treasures. But for us to roll up our sleeves, and be out there to serve others, we need to know why you and I should be the ones to serve and not the ones to be served. Like we mentioned last week, people are eagerly longing to be served than to serve. For us to hear that call to serve, and for us to respond to that call adequately, we need to know some basic principles of stewarship.

In reflecting on stewardship, some Biblical scholars, including Hugh Whelchel, are thinking that there are some principles upon which christian stewardship hangs. Those principles include: that of ownership, responsibility, accountability and reward. This week, we shall reflect on the principle of ownership.

Principle of Ownership: refers generally to the fact that it was God who first created the world, and saw that what he created was good (Genesis 1: 31). Remember that at the beginning, the world was simply a formless void; and God's Spirit hovered over it before He commenced His creativity. And when He finished creating, He was the one who took Adam, and put him at the helms of the affairs of the whole creation (Genesis 2: 15).

Though in that passage, the word "steward" was not used, but one can clearly see its intention in God's actions. We recall that our lives are gifts from God. None of you and I made ourselves. None of you and I had any conversations with God on how, when and where we want to be born. Our lives are given. Our genders are given. Our families are given. And, to a very large extent, even what we become in life are given.

When you reflect about all those, you cannot but marvel with the psalmist, "what is man that you think about him, mortal man that you care about him" (Psalms 8: 4; 144: 3; Job 7: 17); man who is merely dust of the earth. Anyday God takes His breath, that day comes to naught for anyone of us (Psalm 104: 29; Acts 17: 28; Job 12: 9-10).

If all we are, and all we have, are only but gifts from God, why must we not live like people who are borrowers. Remember the Igbo proverb which says "one who has borrowed some clothing does not dance attractively on the stage" otherwise, the owner of such fabric will come to demand it back to the disgrace of the borrower. If all we are, and all we have, come from God, we should be disposed to comport ourselves as such.

In knowing that all we are, and all we have, come from God, we must necessarily use them according to the designs of the donor which we find in that mandate given to man to renew the face of the earth. It is a mandate to serve our brothers and sisters. Let us put to flames again the unction for service!

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