Biblical Guidelines For Stewardship

The Bible is full of examples, instructions, and warnings about money. In Moses’ Law, God provided guidelines for ethical financial dealings with people, and both Solomon and Jesus spoke much about being faithful stewards over money and all material goods which have been entrusted into our care. In searching out these things, we find the scriptures address financial matters by dealing with the heart, showing us characteristics to embrace or avoid. And when the heart is right, we will find solutions to even the most difficult situations. May God give us each understanding as we study what makes a faithful steward.

—Angela Gellenbeck


JANUARY 2, 2022


Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

I Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Peter 4:10 As every man hath received of the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.


MEMORY VERSE: So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. —Romans 14:12


CENTRAL THOUGHT: We are all stewards, not owners, of the many gifts of God and shall all give account of our stewardship; therefore we, being aware that we are not our own, should live and do all for the glory and honor of God and for the benefit of mankind.




Luke 16:1 “Steward”: a manager of a household; treasurer; guardian. The steward “was generally a freedman—a slave released from forced, legal servitude” (Thayer). “One who superintends domestic concerns, and ministers to the support of the family, having the products of the field, business, etc., put into his hands for this very purpose” (Clarke’s Commentary). “Wasted”: scatter; squander; dissipate.

Luke 16:8 “The lord”: the master of the servant in the story; not the Lord Jesus.

Luke 16:9 “Mammon of unrighteousness” and (verse 11) “unrighteous mammon”: “a Hebrew word, and cognate to the Punic language. What the Punics call mammon, is called in Latin, ‘lucre.’ What the Hebrews call mammon, is called in Latin, ‘riches’” (St. Augustine). The opposite of “true riches” (verse 11). Mammon “covers the whole ground of all possible external and material possessions, whatsoever things a man can only have in outward seeming, whatsoever things belong only to the region of sense and the present. All that is in the world, in fact, is included in the one name” (MacLaren’s Expositions).

Luke 16:10 “Faithful”: trustworthy; reliable. “Of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).

Luke 16:11 “True riches”: the true spiritual wealth of peace, pardon, wisdom, the graces of the gospel, spiritual blessings, heavenly treasures. “So in the deepest analysis, and in the truest understanding of these two contrasted classes of wealth you have but the old antithesis: the world—and God. He that has God is rich, however poor he may be in reference to the other category; and he that has Him not is poor, however rich he may be” (MacLaren’s Expositions).




As Jesus spoke this lesson to His disciples, the Pharisees standing nearby also heard it and derided Him. Jesus, discerning their covetousness, reproved them and said, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Later, He pressed His point with another story, this time about the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus. I notice that the Lord often struck at the heart of the Pharisees’ problem with covetousness. They criticized Jesus for eating with unwashed hands; He reminded them of their covetous allowance of disobedience to the fifth commandment so their coffers could be filled with money which should have been used to care for elderly parents. He observed their manner of throwing in their offerings ostentatiously and commended the poor widow who quietly dropped in all her living allowance. He told about the wealthy tycoon whose soul was unexpectedly required of him.

This story of the unjust steward has been designated as the most difficult of all Jesus told. The true meaning of the steward’s actions and his lord’s commendation is a puzzle to many: is Jesus recommending that His followers do as this cunning, unfaithful man did? Some people have even tried to say the story promotes a “Robin Hood” kind of behavior of robbing the unlawfully rich and giving the money to the poor. Surely not!

Most of the scholars find sense in deciding that Jesus is looking at the forethought and effort the people of this world expend in order to gain financial security, and lamenting the lack of that kind of effort for spiritual treasure put forth by “children of light.”

The lesson about the steward is foundational to all of Jesus’ doctrines about literal and spiritual wealth. The concept of stewardship is basic to our understanding of our relationship with God and with our fellowman. If we can grasp this concept and understand it with our hearts, it will regulate all our dealings in this world, balance our affections, prioritize our loyalties, and establish our convictions. The knowledge that we are managers and not owners, and that we will have to give an account for our life’s dealings at the judgment should cause us to question soberly: What does it mean for me to be faithful? What are the true riches? How should I live?

—Angela Gellenbeck


  1. The steward was trying to secure a place for himself when he was put out of a job. In the same way, how can we spiritually prepare for eternity?
  2. Give the meanings of the words mammon and true riches.
  1. Another man’s and your own are terms referring to what kind of wealth
  2. As stewards, we are required to be ______________.
  3. We must all give ____________ to God.





Consider these words of John Wesley: “Now, this is exactly the case of every man, with relation to God. We are not at liberty to use what he has lodged in our hands as we please, but as He pleases, who alone is the possessor of heaven and earth, and the Lord of every creature. We have no right to dispose of anything we have, but according to His will, seeing we are not proprietors of any of these things; they are all, as our Lord speaks, belonging to another person; nor is anything properly our own, in the land of our pilgrimage. We shall not receive our own things, till we come to our own country. Eternal things only are our own: With all these temporal things we are barely entrusted by another, the Disposer and Lord of all. And He entrusts us with them on this express condition, that we use them only as our Master’s goods, and according to the particular directions which He has given us in His Word.

“The Lord of all will inquire, ‘How didst thou employ the worldly goods which I lodged in thy hands? Didst thou use thy food, not so as to seek or place thy happiness therein, but so as to preserve thy body in health, in strength and vigour, a fit instrument for the soul? Didst thou use apparel, not to nourish pride or vanity, much less to tempt others to sin, but conveniently and decently to defend thyself from the injuries of the weather? Didst thou prepare and use thy house, and all other conveniences, with a single eye to My glory—in every point seeking not thy own honour, but Mine; studying to please, not thyself, but Me? once more: in what manner didst thou employ that comprehensive talent, money?—not in gratifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; not squandering it away in vain expenses—the same as throwing it into the sea; not hoarding it up to leave behind thee—the same as burying it in the earth; but first supplying thy own reasonable wants, together with those of thy family; then restoring the remainder to me, through the poor, whom I had appointed to receive it; looking upon thyself as only one of that number of poor, whose wants were to be supplied out of that part of my substance which I had placed in thy hands for this purpose; leaving thee the right of being supplied first, and the blessedness of giving rather than receiving? Wast thou accordingly a general benefactor to mankind? feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, assisting the stranger, relieving the afflicted, according to their various necessities? Wast thou eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, a father to the fatherless, and an husband to the widow? And didst thou labour to improve all outward works of mercy, as means of saving souls from death?’”

—Angela Gellenbeck




John Wesley taught at length on stewardship, so here is more food for thought from him, along with an anecdote that reveals some of the impetus for his convictions:

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley (1703-1791), while in his 20s, had a deeply disturbing experience. On a cold winter day, he was visited by a poor woman. Seeing her, he said, “You seem half-starved. Have you nothing to cover you but that thin linen gown?” She said, “Sir, this is all I have.” He reached in his pocket for money so she could buy a coat but found he had hardly any left after having just bought some pictures for his room. It immediately hit him, “Thou hast adorned thy walls with the money which might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?”

After this insight Wesley committed himself to living as frugally as possible, in order to give as much as possible. As his income increased, his standard of living did not. He just gave more away.

In a sermon called “The Use of Money,” he proposed “three plain rules:” 1. Gain all you can; 2. Save all you can; 3. Give all you can. He stated that the proper use of money was a subject greatly neglected by religious folks and that “poets, orators and philosophers, in almost all ages and nations” rail against money “as the grand corrupter of the world, the bane of virtue, the pest of human society.” Wesley claimed this was a terrible mistake.

“‘The love of money,’ we know, ‘is the root of all evil;’ but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. It may be used ill: and what may not? But it may likewise be used well: It is full as applicable to the best, as to the worst uses. It is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of His children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked … a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain.” (Excerpt from religion-column-warren-0701-story.html).

—Fari Matthews