Stewardship, as presented in this article, refers to managing of talents God placed in our trust. A steward is a manager. Stewardship is about management. Read Luke 19:12-27 with this definition in mind and notice the following insights.
1. God owns everything
In this parable, the master owned the money that was given to the servants. In like manner, God owns all that we have. Our jobs, businesses, money, investments, houses, relationships, bodies, and even our time belong to God. We are not the owners; we are simply stewards or managers of what God has placed in our trust.
2. God has given us what He believes we can manage
Notice that the master gave the servants what he believed they could handle. Whatever God has given us, He believes we can handle.
Also our financial gifts—our jobs, our income, our business, and even our bills and creditors—are allowed to be in our lives because God believes and knows we can handle them. We may not believe we can handle them, but God knows we can!
Sometimes, we believe we can handle even more. This may be true; however, we must learn to trust God’s timing. God will have more wealth for some of us after more time has passed. And when we receive more, God expects more from us. Therefore, we should be careful about what we ask God to give us.
3. God expects profit
The master in the text gave talents to the servants with the expectation that when he comes back, they would have more than what he had given them. So it is with God and us: God expects us to take what He has given us and make a profit.
Notice that neither the master nor Jesus gave detailed instructions about how to make a profit. God instructs us to make a profit and leaves the details to our wise judgment. Some people will do well in stocks, others in real estate, others with business, others with precious metals, and others with precious souls. But all believers should understand the divine instruction to be profitable with the money God has placed in our trust. Spending money on items that decrease in value will not produce a profit. We must spend money on assets that increase in value. Clothes, cars, fine dining, entertainment, vacations, and the like are consumer items that don’t produce profit. Stocks, bonds, real estate, and businesses are examples of assets that can produce profit. Although we may need a certain amount of consumer items, we must work diligently to keep consumer spending low so we can invest in things that hold value to the sight of God.
4. God will bless us based on our profitability
Notice that the master blessed the profitable servants at their levels of profitability: the most profitable was most blessed, and the moderately profitable was moderately blessed. In similar fashion, God will bless us in proportion to our profits.
If we live on less than we make so we can invest in profitable assets, then we can look forward to a dignified retirement and a rewarding experience in heaven.
5. God will also punish lack of profit
Notice that the master had no patience for the unprofitable servant. Not only was the money taken away from him; he was severely punished. God is a merciful God, but at some point, justice requires dealing with sin.
It is sin to take what God has given us for His glory and profit and use it for our comforts. We should learn and apply the principles of financial stewardship so we can be profitable and blessed instead of unprofitable and punished.
In summary, God owns everything, and we are simply His stewards. God has given us what He knows we can manage. He expects us to be profitable. He will bless us at our level of profitable financial stewardship, and He will punish a lack of profitability.
Ellen G. White says, “The parable of the talents should be a matter of the most careful and prayerful study; for it has a personal and individual application to every man, woman, and child possessed of the powers of reason. Your obligation and responsibility are in proportion to the talents God has bestowed upon you. . . . Every individual, from the lowliest and most obscure to the greatest and most exalted, is a moral agent endowed with abilities for which he is accountable to God. To a greater or less degree, all are placed in charge of the talents of their Lord. The spiritual, mental, and physical ability, the influence, station, possessions, affections, sympathies, all are precious talents to be used in the cause of the Master for the salvation of souls for whom Christ died” (Review and Herald, May 1, 1888 par. 1).
General Conference Ministerial Association