Guests: Carl Cosaert and Dave Thomas
When Christians hear the word stewardship, many think of the need to carefully manage the financial resources God has given. Stewardship, however, involves the careful use and management of all the resources God has entrusted to us.
1. (Psalms 50:9-12) A foundational principle undergirding stewardship is that all that we are and all that we “own” really belongs to God. We should use what God has given as he would want us to, not merely as we would want to. What do you find is most difficult to turn over to God? Is it your time? Your finances? Your relationships? Your health? Your talents and abilities? From the preceding list, what does God most want you to turn over to him?
2. (Matthew 25:14-30) The Adult Sabbath School Study Guide uses this parable of Jesus to urge us to use our talents for God. In the parable, however, the word “talent” refers to a unit of money, not an ability. Whatever the case, the parable contains some thought provoking ideas.
A. In the parable, some servants are given more talents than others. Why? Are some of us given more money or more abilities than others? Is that fair?
B. Are those with more talents held to a higher standard by the master? If this is true, is it actually to our advantage to be a “one talent” person? What is the advantage of having many talents?
C. How is it that a person can “increase” the talents that God has given?
D. If we think of “talents” as God-given gifts or abilities, why is it that God would take talents away from someone? Jesus said, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Mat 25:29). What did he mean by this?
E. Do you think some people do not exercise their talents because of their humility?
F. What God-given talents are especially needed in your church?
3. (Mark 1:21-39) Part of stewardship involves careful use of our time. In Mark 1, we find a sequence of events that took place during a twenty-four hour period in Jesus” life. How did Jesus spend his time? Is Jesus a good example for us as to how we should spend our time? If we look at Jesus” entire 30+ years of life on earth, would we say that he spent his time wisely? If God had given us the task of
“scheduling” how Jesus would spend his 30 years on earth, what would the schedule have looked like?
4. (Gen 2:1-3; Exo 20:8-11) In what ways does the Sabbath help us with our stewardship of time? If our daily schedule was given to God for him to organize, how would our schedule change? Would we work more, or less?
5. (1 Cor 6:19-20) It seems that when it comes to stewardship of our own bodies, balance is difficult to achieve. How careful must we be? Eating refined sugar, for example, is not healthful. Yet, does that mean that we should never have ice cream? Should we feel guilty for eating unhealthy desserts or greasy foods-or adding mustard to a sandwich? Must all that we eat be organic and raw? How can we be careful stewards of our health without becoming preoccupied and self-focused?
6. (Mal 3:8-10) Few would disagree with the concept of tithing. What is less certain, however, is if a person bears responsibility for how their tithe is used. Should we continue to pay tithe if we feel that the church is not using our funds as God would desire? Does the story in 1 Samuel 1 help us to answer this question? (Samuel”s parents continue to come to the temple and offer sacrifices [and Hannah even donates her son!] while Eli”s sons misuse the offerings that are given.)
7. (James 1:27; James 2:14-17) Christians in the Western world are wealthy by the world”s standards. (Approximately half of the world lives on less than US $2 per day, for example.) What responsibility do we have to care for the material needs of others around the world? Does our responsibility end once we have paid tithe? When the day of judgment comes, how will we answer Jesus when he asks what we did to care for the “least of these”?