Public Square

We Steward Our Time, Talents, and Resources – so Why Not Our Relationships?

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At my recent wedding, eight of my favorite women stood by my side. My bridesmaids hailed from eight different cities, and those cities are often changing. Despite distance, they are my closest friends.

Those relationships are just some of the most important to me, outside my family and my new husband. Intentionally pursuing them all gets tricky, especially as I prioritize building new relationships in a new city with a new husband. With a busy work and social calendar, I am constantly juggling my time, energy, and emotions to pursue my loved ones near and far.

These people in my life have been and still are significant avenues God has used to teach, challenge, encourage, grow, and love me.

Relationships are essential to human flourishing.

When we talk about whole-life stewardship, we think about what that includes but not always who.

God has called us to steward what he has given us – gifts, talents, resources. Does that apply to relationships? He’s placed us on his earth to have dominion and multiply, to experience freedom and to flourish – together.

When we apply biblical stewardship to our lives, it must include people.

As image-bearers of Christ, we are created to reflect his glory to each other. God’s people are his crown glory of creation. If he expects us to carefully steward his creation, we should include mankind.

Why Should We Steward Relationships?

In Matthew 22, Jesus faces the Pharisees and Sadducees, who in an effort to test Jesus, asked him about the greatest commandment:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (36-40)

Jesus plainly points to our relationships as the most important and significant way to honor the Lord. We must understand how to apply our personal resources – heart, mind, and soul – in order to steward and love well.

God gives us the command to love and also the ability to love. We can confidently steward our relationships knowing that the power to love others comes from God. When we love others well, his love is perfected in us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-8)

How Can We Steward Relationships Well?

So, how do we love God, ourselves, and others well?

We can apply the four principles of biblical stewardship to our relationships – ownership, responsibility, accountability, and reward.

  • Ownership: All we have belongs to God – we manage on his behalf, staying keen to his ultimate purposes and will. His commandment to love one another informs how we manage relationships. We can steward our relationships with his purposes in mind, understanding that the way we love others ultimately glorifies God.
  • Responsibility: Managing well means managing responsibly. We have a God-given responsibility to love our neighbors, our family, our friends, our co-workers, and even our enemies. We are also finite beings without endless time, energy, and capabilities. We cannot be present and attentive to everyone, all the time. We must steward our time and energy to love the people in our lives intentionally.
  • Accountability: Living in community is central to the Christian life. We cannot flourish alone. Part of our responsibility to live in relationship means holding one another to a Christian standard with love and grace, furthering one another in the life-long journey of sanctification to become more like Christ.
  • Reward: The Lord blesses our efforts to honor him in all that we do – including how we love others. Loving well does not come without heartache and hardship, but God is faithful to bless our pursuit of him and his people.

Have you ever applied stewardship to your relationships? How can this idea change the way you love God, others, and yourself?

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  • Tracy Earl Welliver

    Great article! We are made for community and good stewardship of community is so important. This is especially true since God never calls us in isolation. Our relationships are key to good discernment. Thanks for the thoughtful words!

  • Conanjay Wallace

    This was very well written and needs to be disseminated to the masses. So I will do so. Congratulations on your new husband! Live long and prosper!

  • Vernon Brant

    Wow! What a timely article. Our pastor is teaching on authentic discipleship for the next couple of weeks. I can’t help but think about how Jesus applied this principle to the relationship he had with his disciples. I’m not sure if the four points laid out apply to Jesus, but the end result is the same. He invested in them just like we are supposed to invest in the lives God places in our path.

  • fab4mattmarklukejohn

    We’re told to give ourselves to people who can’t do anything for us. The very concept of stewarding suggests being calculating to continually weed out people who can’t do anything for us, to invest ourselves in those who can help us. Maybe you didn’t mean that, but it certainly is entailed by the concept of stewarding the relationships in our lives.

    • Elizabeth Moyer

      Thank you for your comments. You make an important point. Stewardship is often made synonymous with maximizing profitability. Applying that to relationships can seem entirely self-serving. An important part of practicing good biblical stewardship is carefully managing the owner’s resources to his original wishes and intent. God tells us first and foremost to love him with all we are, and to love others as ourselves. Jesus set the example for loving the unloved, and we’re called to follow it. Loving others won’t always profit us, but if done how Christ exemplified, it will be to the Owner’s wishes. It’s also important to note that as finite beings we can’t give all of ourselves to everyone all the time. To “love others as ourselves,” we must understand what loving and taking care of ourselves looks like, too. Stay tuned for more blogs that explore these ideas!

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