Stewards of God’s Property

Cary Holman (left) and his father spend time together on the farm in 1996. (Photo courtesy of Cary Holman)

by Cary Holman

I grew up on a small farm in the Midwest. We were tenant farmers — the land my dad farmed did not belong to us.

My dad and the landlord, who lived a two-hour drive away, had a crop-share arrangement. My dad contributed the labor, he and the landlord split the cost of the seed, and then they split the harvest 50/50.

Dad showed me what it meant to be a steward, to be a caretaker of something valuable that belonged to someone else.
Psalm 24:1 begins: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Dad understood that the earth he farmed belonged to another. To be a good steward of that land, my dad had to plan.

To raise a good crop, he couldn’t just throw seed into a field. The ground had to be prepared by plowing and discing. He had to select the best seed. Fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides were often needed to produce the highest yield, and my dad had to harvest the crop at the right time.

Today’s environmental movement raises our awareness that we are stewards of the earth. Interest is high in conservation, but to what end? The secular response is often “to make sure

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what we have is here for our children and grandchildren.”

But, for the Christian, everything belongs to the Lord — not just the earth’s natural resources, but also our time, talents and treasure. To maximize the return for the Owner, we need to plan. By developing stewardship plans, we can increase the yield for our families and for kingdom ministries.

GROUP DISCUSSION:

[1] Do we live out our belief that everything belongs to God?
[2] Do we plan how to spend our time, talents and treasure effectively?

Cary Holman, Ph.D., is an associate professor of communication at Greenville College, the manager of WGRN-FM and a regional representative for the Free Methodist Foundation.

One Response to Stewards of God’s Property

  1. Howard A. Snyder July 11, 2012 at 1:59 PM #

    I enjoyed the July 2012 Light & Life. I appreciated the stewardship emphasis.

    The piece on “Stewards of God’s Property” made some good points about earth stewardship. However the sentence beginning “The secular response” implies an unfortunate either/or between the Christian view and an “environmental movement” view. Surely “to make sure what we have is here for our children and grandchildren” is as much a Christian as a “secular” concern. In fact a number of Scriptures speak directly to that.

    It is unfortunate, but symptomatic, that when Christians think of stewardship they think almost exclusively of time and money. Those are secondary to our more basic stewardship: the stewardship of all creation, “the garden” in the largest sense, in which God has placed us.

    In the Bible, there are two basic kinds of stewardship: Stewardship of “the earth” (and creation generally), and stewardship of God’s grace (1 Pt. 4:10). God gives us his grace so we can be faithful stewards of the world he has made. Creation care is the most basic stewardship; time and money are two dimensions of the larger whole, and are generally misunderstood if not see in that larger perspective.

    I am hoping this more biblical understanding of stewardship will really begin to sink in among all Christians, including Free Methodists.

    Howard A. Snyder