$tewardship or S†ewardship?


When we hear the word “Stewardship,” we often think of money. For better or worse, we have been taught to believe that donating our material resources is the highest form of giving. In reality, being generous with our funds is just one characteristic of a greater commitment: complete surrender of our lives to God’s will.

One of the core values of The Alliance is this: “Everything we have belongs to God. We are only stewards.” When A. B. Simpson founded The Christian and Missionary Alliance more than 125 years ago, he knew that the fulfillment of the Great Commission would take more than money (although without that resource, it would have been nearly impossible to reach the millions of lost people who have been brought to faith through The Alliance). Simpson understood that the task of taking the gospel to the world would require men and women who were not just willing to lay down their lives but who had already given everything up for the sake of Christ.

True stewardship is more about surrender than silver. In Matthew 16:24–26, Jesus lays out, in very clear terms, what it will cost to follow him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Later, Jesus addresses the rich young ruler in what seems, at first, to be a discussion about money: “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:21). Was this really a financial discussion? In the young ruler’s case, his wealth was the one unsurrendered area of his life that kept him from following Christ with all he had. Jesus was clearly focusing more on his heart than on his wallet. When we make stewardship all about money, we miss much of what Christ has taught us about its purest meaning.

In 1917, C&MA missionaries Arthur and Lydia Duckworth and their six children, Ethel, Martin, Rosaland, Scovill, Edith and Violet, were returning to India from furlough. World War I was in progress, and their ship, the S.S. Athens, sailed around South Africa to avoid submarine-infested waters. Just off the shore of Capetown, the ship hit a mine and sank rapidly. The entire family perished. What a weighty price they paid—yet what an eternal place of honor they enjoy.

In December of last year, a gunman murdered four young people in Colorado who had given their time and talents in Christian service. Two of the slain youth were sisters, and their father, David Works, was seriously wounded in the attack. “Twenty-two years ago, I gave my life to Christ and that meant everything,” Works said in an interview with ABC News. “I didn’t know it would be this much.”

As the new editor for Alliance Life magazine, I am the latest steward in a line that began 126 years ago with Simpson’s original publication, The Word, the Work and the World. In researching for this role, I have unearthed countless examples of people who have given sacrificially of their time, talents, and treasures in order to see the cause of Christ fulfilled in their neighborhoods and the nations. As a result of this legacy, someone comes to saving faith in Christ every two minutes through Alliance ministry somewhere in the world. On my watch, this magazine will continue to herald what God does when His people eagerly surrender everything back to Him, the rightful and righteous Owner.

In Frances Havergal’s familiar hymn of consecration, Take My Life, and Let It Be, there’s a reason that “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold” takes its rightful place as the fourth verse under the main stanza: “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.” Laying our lives—and those of our families—on the altar of Christian sacrifice is the ultimate act of stewardship. Our possessions will naturally follow. We can’t give more than our all. Can we afford to give anything less?

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