Everything the Bible says about money, wealth, and possessions can be condensed into a few simple stewardship principles.
7 Principles of Stewardship
- Jesus is King
- Work Hard
- Find Your Mission
- Give Consistently
- Give Extravagantly
- Don't Hoard
- God's Economy
One of the goals of Stewardship.com is to present these 7 principles that guide everything the Bible says about money, wealth, and possessions.
These principles were discovered by studying virtually every passage on money, wealth, and possessions with the aim of sorting them into a small, memorable set of basic principles. I came up with 7 (yes, cliche) that provide the simplest way to organize the huge wealth of information while not leaving anything out.
This diagram shows how the 7 Stewardship Principles relate to one another.
Everything flows from Principle 1: Jesus is King. Principles 2-7 are organized into three groups covering the topics of Work, Giving, and Investing.
Some of the choices might seem questionable: for example, Principle 2 covers both work and rest, which could arguably be split in two. You could also argue principles 4 and 5 both encourage giving, why not combine them into one principle? While there could be other ways to do it, I believe my choices here are justified, read on to see why.
Stewardship Principle 1: Jesus is King
Jesus is a king, but one who is not of this world. When we follow the king who is not of this world our needs in this world and the next will be provided for.
No one can have two masters, we cannot serve both God and Money. The love of money is the root of all evil, yet money itself is not evil. Money is similar to that line about humility: “it’s not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It’s not about having less money (necessarily), it’s about thinking less about money, and more about Jesus. As we do that he will take care of our needs.
Stewardship Principle 2: Work Hard
We need to work hard to provide for ourselves, our families, and those in need. Paul worked hard to provide for his own material needs even while preaching.
“The one who does not work, does not eat.” No matter our job we can do it “as if for the Lord, not for man.”
And yet, to sustain hard work over a lifetime we must balance it with times of rest and refreshment. Otherwise we are no better than Israelite slaves building pagan temples in Egypt.
Stewardship Principle 3: Your Mission
Jesus called some to leave everything and follow him. Others he told to return to their home and tell people what they’d seen. The Bible has a number of examples of righteous people with power and wealth (David, Daniel, Joseph, early Christians who supported others) as well as righteous who were poor and mistreated (Jeremiah, Paul, Jesus himself). Others, like Job, went back and forth between wealth and poverty while remaining faithful to God.
A corollary of this principle is that whatever your mission is, God will provide what you need to carry it out. For some that will mean owning a business and having some form of wealth, for others it will mean relying on others’ generosity. Each has its place.
Stewardship Principle 4: Give Consistently
Much of the Old and New Testament emphasizes consistent giving. The Israelites were instructed to give a tithe (10%) of their produce. Part of this went to support the Levites and Priests so they could focus on ministering to the spiritual needs of the people.
The New Testament affirms that principle if not the exact amount that should be given. Those who have extra are also asked to share with those in need. The exhortation to give is one of the most frequent in the entire Bible.
Stewardship Principle 5: Give Extravagantly
Some of Jesus’s greatest praise was reserved for people who gave extravagantly, for example, the woman with the jar of expensive perfume and the widow who gave “all she had to live on.” Jesus himself followed up a life of consistent giving with the extravagant gift of his life.
As in principle 2, this looks different for every person. We’ll look at examples of extravagant giving including the Tabernacle, the Temple, and early Christians who sold fields or houses to share with others in need.
Stewardship Principle 6: Don’t Hoard
While some have the calling, and the honor, of giving away everything they own, what if that’s not you? What should we do with the money we don’t give?
The Bible is clear that hoarding is not the way to go. Think of the parable of the guy who built bigger barns to “have many years of ease.” That very night his life was taken from him and others got what he had stored up.
But if worldly investing often looks suspiciously like hoarding, how can we manage our extra in a way that pleases God? How do we distinguish excessive hoarding from reasonable preparation for times of need in the future?
Stewardship Principle 7: God’s Economy
A number of Old Testament laws describe the economic and financial system God wanted Israel to follow. I believe those laws were chosen in order to prevent the two biggest dangers modern financial systems face:
- asset booms and crashes and
- systemic and absurdly high inequality between rich and poor.
We will look at the causes of these dangers and show how the Mosaic Law acts to prevent them. No nation is likely to implement laws like this before Jesus comes back (Israel itself never actually followed them either). But by looking into these economic principles we will gain some practical knowledge plus a greater appreciation for God’s wisdom.
The goal of this post is just to lay out the 7 Principles of Stewardship and provide a brief summary of each principle. For more information about individual stewardship principles, check out other stewardship articles or watch our YouTube channel.