Training for Godliness: Stewardship
Whitney begins chapter eight with these paragraphs,
“Think for a moment. What events have produced the greatest stress in your life today? This past week? Haven’t they involved some feeling of being overloaded with responsibilities at home, work, school, church, or all of the above? Paying bills? Running late for an appointment? Balancing your checkbook? Waiting in a traffic jam on the highway or runway? Facing unexpected car repair or medical expenses? Going with too little rest? Running short of cash before payday?
Each of these anxiety-producers has to do with either time or money. Think of how many day-to-day issues involve the use of one of these two. The clock and the dollar are such substantial factors in so many parts of life that their role must be considered in any serious discussion of Godly living.”
As we consider Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7, NET). There are many expressions of godliness, many of which we have examined thus far. Now we come to an important aspect of godliness that requires discipline (i.e., training), that is stewardship.
Stewardship is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is “The responsible use of resources, esp. money, time, and talents, in the service of God; spec. the organized pledging of specific amounts of money etc. to be given regularly to the Church.”
Whitney’s work, which has provided our outline and a substantial amount of help, discusses two primary areas in which we should demonstrate stewardship: time and money.
Stewardship with Time
I want you to imagine life about one hundred years ago. There were no appliances to help with chores around the house. Dishes and clothes would require handwashing. All meals had to be prepared by hand, including their production (unless money/goods were bartered). With no electricity, capitalizing on the light was vital. There was little time for leisure. The people that lived during this period (and before) had to be master stewards of their time just to live.
Today, we enjoy many privileges and helps with these tasks. Just this morning I placed a load of laundry (a daily chore with a family of six) into a washer shortly after awakening. Then, after breakfast, I transferred that load into the dryer. Within two hours, one load of laundry was washed and dried. Imagine the difference in time as compared to those who lived one hundred years ago! The question is, What I am doing with that time? Am I investing in growing in my Christlikeness? Or, am I squandering it by glancing through various social media websites, watching TV, or keeping up with the latest election update (it is Friday 13 November as I type this).
Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Therefore consider carefully how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16, NET). Are we taking advantage of every opportunity to discipline ourselves to godliness? We marvel as saints of yesteryear, at their depth of the knowledge of God’s Word, and at their intimacy with our God. Yet, we fail to consider how different we live than they once did. We have access to many advantages of our society. We do not spend hours preparing our meals. We do not have to grow food in our backyards in order to survive. Yet, they in the midst of those things (and many others), advanced in their godliness. Why? I am convinced it is because they took advantage of every opportunity they had. Jonathan Edwards, a man who I consider to be a spiritual hero, constantly read while riding to various places. He was taking advantage of those opportunities!
How can we take advantage of our time? There are so many ways! While waiting in an office, we can read or memorize Scripture. While checking out at the grocery store, we can share the gospel. While taking a break from the busyness of the day, we can spend a few moments in prayer. These and an abundance of examples are all worthy of our consideration.
Stewardship with Money
Whitney writes, “The disciplined use of money requires that we manage it in such a way that our needs and those of our family are met.” It requires discipline to manage our money.
We must handle our financial resources in a way that honors God and reflects a generous spirit. Considering the amount of debt that the majority of US citizens have, it is important that believers reflect a different value system. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s helpful work, Financial Peace Revisited. Though I do not agree with everything he writes, he provides a helpful framework for the disciplined to be godly in our financial responsibilities.
Are you disciplining yourself for godliness with your stewardship? One thing that is implied, but we have not discussed, is the idea behind stewardship. It implies that someone else owns the material (or, time, as the case may be), and we simply oversee it. This is a biblical truth. God holds our breath in His hand (see Daniel 5:23). He is the Creator and owner of all (Rom. 1:19-20, 28-32). As such, everything we have been given, including time and money, is to be used wisely for His glory and our good.
 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 131.  "stewardship, n.". OED Online. September 2020. Oxford University Press. https://www-oed-com.ezproxy.bju.net/view/Entry/190092?redirectedFrom=stewardship (accessed November 13, 2020).  Incidentally, Edwards preached a helpful sermon on time. See: Jonathan Edwards, rev. and ed. by Edward Hickman, The Works of Jonathan Edwards Volume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 233-236.  Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, 139.  Ibid., 144-145.  Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace Revisited (New York, NY: Viking, 2003).