Theology of Stewardship and Generosity

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Psalm 24:1

At Community Life Church (c|Life), we are a community marked by God’s grace and committed to sharing the love of Jesus with those around us. We believe God accomplishes His purposes through ordinary people like us. By managing God’s blessings, God’s way, for God’s glory, we will leave a lasting legacy of love in our cities and throughout the world.

Together, our mission is to change the world by connecting people to God and one another.

A vision of this magnitude requires each of us to be fully committed and invested in bringing it about. We honor God by wisely stewarding all He entrusts to us toward accomplishing His purposes, which means giving freely and sacrificially of our time, talents, and treasure to others without expecting anything in return. This type of giving is inspired by love and gratitude for all God has generously given us. We give because He first gave to us.

We give because God first gave to us.

We want everyone at c|Life to grow as disciples and followers of Christ and be a part of fulfilling our vision. Therefore, we must embrace a biblical perspective of stewardship and generosity to grow Kingdom resources for Kingdom purposes. When we do, we will know the joy of seeing God working through us as we help others become more like Jesus.

Fully formed disciples and followers of Jesus understand what Christ has done for them (grace), who they are in Christ (identity), and have set their hearts to pattern their lives after Christ’s until they look and live like Jesus (life patterns).

The four identities of a fully formed follower include:

  1. Worshiper – Disciples grow in their devotion to God and away from devotion to anything else.
  2. Witness – Disciples faithfully share the good news of Jesus with others and see people come to faith in Christ.
  3. Servant – Disciples know how God has gifted them, and they use their gifts to serve others.
  4. Disciple Maker – Disciples understand their primary ministry calling is to disciple others to become fully formed followers of Jesus.

As we make disciples that make disciples (2 Timothy 2:2), we grow a culture of stewardship and generosity built on a solid scriptural foundation. The following three Biblical truths are the foundation from which we teach and model stewardship and generosity toward others.

Biblical Truth #1:
God owns everything; we are his managers.

Biblical stewardship is managing God’s blessings, God’s way, for God’s glory.

As disciples, we recognize God as the owner of all things. If God is the owner, we are not. Instead, we’re His stewards—His managers. We don’t own anything but are temporarily responsible for everything entrusted to us and will give an account of how we managed it.

Stewardship is about more than money. God commands us to be stewards over everything He blesses us with. That means our time, talents, relationships, jobs and, yes, treasure (material possessions). It’s all God’s, and He trusts us with it to use for His purposes.
A stewardship mindset shifts from a view of having full authority over our stuff to giving God full authority over His stuff.

Questions to consider:

  • Reflect on what it means to be a steward.
  • It’s normal to talk about “my job, my house, my education, my car, my retirement fund.” Is that how you think about what’s been entrusted to you?
  • Why do we think of these things as being ours?
  • What blessing do you think comes from adopting a steward’s mindset and giving God full authority over “your” stuff?
  • What attitudes would that mindset foster?
  • What is one thing you can do today to embrace a steward’s mindset more fully?

Biblical Truth #2:
Giving is an act of worship.

Giving is a spiritual sacrifice and an expression of gratitude, reflecting our belief that everything we have comes from God.

As disciples, when we make God the center of our lives, we honor Him, align our priorities with His, and willingly sacrifice to see “His kingdom come.” In short, we worship Him. Giving is an act of worship that comes from a heart fully committed to God. When we give, we affirm our belief in God’s goodness and generosity, and our dependence on Him. Through giving, we outwardly express our gratitude to him in a tangible way. God does not ask us to give because He needs our resources. Instead, He challenges us to make Him the focus of our lives rather than our comfort, pleasure, security, or possessions. Our giving reveals our value system. When we give, we are not giving away some of our money. We are giving back to God what is already His. By shifting our mindset away from what we are giving up to what we have gained in Christ, we are moved to worship and inspired to duplicate His heart of generosity.

As members of Christ’s body, we give to c|Life because we want to see the gospel move forward. Our corporate worship of giving allows our servant leaders to use their time and talents to care for brothers and sisters in Christ, bless people far from God, plant churches, disciple the next generation, and send missionaries to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Through giving, we unleash our collective resources—time, talents, and treasures—to invest in what God is accomplishing. Together we can do far more for the Kingdom than we could ever ask or imagine. As one body, we grow in stewardship, generosity, and bless others by giving generously.

Four types of givers:

  1. Initial Giver: Someone who decides to give for the first time in response to God’s word.
  2. Consistent Giver: Someone who decides to give on a regular basis.
  3. Intentional Giver: Someone who is beginning to think of giving as applying to their time, talents, and treasure. Intentional givers look at their lives and consider how their giving reflects their view of God and commitment to His Kingdom.
  4. Surrendered Giver: Someone who gives in a way that changes their lifestyle and seeks to honor God with 100% of what He has entrusted to them. Their giving governs how they use their time, talents, and treasure.

Questions to consider:

  • Do you regularly give to c|Life? Is your giving motivated by obligation, obedience, or love? How can you tell?
  • What do you think it looks like to be a surrendered giver?
  • What is one step you can take today to become a more surrendered giver?

Biblical Truth #3:
Generosity is a lifestyle in which we demonstrate God’s love.

At its core, generosity is a lifestyle in which we hold with open hands all we’ve been given by God, sacrificially blessing others as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace. Generosity is a willingness to share freely, which involves personal sacrifice.

As disciples, generosity flows through us as the love of God overflows in our lives, teaching us to love others. Through generosity, we display the nature of God to others. But there’s more. Jesus said, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). In other words, by investing “our” treasure in the priorities of God, we can shift our affections more toward Him. The more we give, the greater our love of God and people grows. A healthy culture of stewardship and generosity encourages people to grow as disciples of Jesus, find intimacy with God, experience increased spiritual vitality, and live generously for significant Kingdom impact.

At c|Life, we follow Christ by giving regularly as an expression of our love for God and others. We give because God first gave to us. As we recognize God’s generosity and realize we are stewards of God’s resources, we grow in our desire to be generous with what He’s entrusted to us. Biblical stewardship produces gratitude, and gratitude produces generosity. We may start giving out of obligation, but as we give more consistently and experience God’s blessing, we become more generous. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to move beyond giving only when asked, toward seeking opportunities to be generous in all of our lifestyle choices. In submitting to Him, we can be inspired to give in abundance (according to our means) with a cheerful heart. God assures us that He will provide the “seed to be sown” and accomplish more than we can imagine as a result.

Three levels of generosity:

  1. Convenient: We give our leftovers, typically motivated by guilt or duty.
  2. Thoughtful: We set aside time, talents, and treasure to give to others, and understand the purpose of giving back to God.
  3. Generous: We have discovered the joy of living generously and look for additional opportunities to bless others and invest in Kingdom work.

Questions to consider:

  • How would you rate your level of generosity?
  • What does a generous lifestyle look like?
  • What practices of gratitude for all that God has done for you can you implement today to grow a heart of generosity?

Supporting Scriptures

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

— Psalm 24:1 NIV

Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.

— Deuteronomy 8:17–18 ESV

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

— Matthew 25:21 ESV

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

— Matthew 6:24 ESV

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

— Luke 16:10–11 ESV

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

— 2 Corinthians 8: 1-5 NIV

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

— Matthew 6:21 ESV

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And, God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things, at all times you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

— 2 Corinthians 9:6-13 ESV

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

— Acts 2:44-45 ESV

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

— Acts 4:32-35 NIV

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

— 1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV

Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.

— Exodus 25:2 NIV