Part 4 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.
The essence of wisdom is understanding action-consequence. Perhaps in our lives we see this most clearly with stewardship. When you hear the word stewardship, you probably think of money. But we might say that stewardship extends into every facet of our life since everything is a gift from God. Therefore, if we have wisdom in stewardship, we will be on our way to a godly and satisfied life.
We all know the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. Aesop (620-560 BC) wrote this story. Solomon lived some 400 years before Aesop, yet wrote about hard work in the same way: “The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer” (Prov. 30:25). Further, “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame” (10:5).
If we want to provide for ourselves, our loved ones, and the poor and marginalized, then there must be planning and hard work. Money, food, and shelter don’t just appear like vapor in the clouds. We must be strategic planners and workers in order to steward our resources and energy well. Solomon gives the warning: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (24:34).
This isn’t contradictory to Jesus’ command to not worry, however. Worry is an internal feeling of anxiousness rooted in a lack of faith in God. Planning is rooted in faith that God will sovereignly provide through hard, sanctified work. After all, hard work is commanded by and pleases God (see 2 Thess. 3:10).
Proverbs also teaches us about something called “putting up security” for a neighbor. This means that one person offer to pay someone else’s debt if he defaults (fails to pay the debt). This is foolish according to Solomon. In Proverbs 6,:1-5 Solomon tells his son that he will spend his whole life climbing out of the whole he created for himself. Elsewhere he writes, “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure” (11:15). “One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor” (17:18). “Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts” (22:26).
This doesn’t mean that loaning large amounts of money is always morally wrong. We must be liberal in our giving to the kingdom, just like the Macedonians (2 Cor. 8:1-5). However, giving large sums of money to people who have continually been poor stewards of their finances and lifestyle will not make up for their foolishness.
Finally, let’s look at that heavenly Proverbs 31 woman. Verse 16 says, “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” This shows us two things: 1) We must be good stewards of business and/or family decisions, and 2) We must be good stewards of our abilities or talents because they too are gifts from the Most High. This woman made quality decisions and actions for her family that pleased God, her husband, and her kids.
You will never be a wise enough steward, but there’s hope, redemption, and transformation in Christ. So as I ask myself, I ask you: Where do you need to become a better steward?