Why Stewardship is Important: Part 1–Trustworthy

Why Stewardship is Important: Part 1–Trustworthy September 17, 2023

Whoever can be trusted in small matters can also be trusted in great ones, but whoever is dishonest in small matters will also be dishonest in great ones. Therefore, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches? And if you have not shown yourself to be trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you anything of your own? Luke 16:10-12 (NCB)

Take a moment to consider this question: What do you have that wasn’t given to you?


We use words like “earn” and “create” to maintain the illusion that we alone are responsible for everything that we have. However, if these things were really ours, then we couldn’t lose them, could we?


Sure, we work for our money, but then someone else must give it to us. Then either we give it away to someone else by spending it, or we hold onto it forever and die, at which point we don’t take it with us. There’s a reason you don’t see hearses towing U-hauls!


So, if it’s not really “our” money, then whose is it?


King David answered that question emphatically after taking the offering to build the temple in Jerusalem:


To you, Lord, belong greatness and power,
honor, splendor, and majesty,
because everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you.
 Lord, is the kingship,
and you are honored as head of all.
You are the source of wealth and honor,
and you rule over all.
In your hand are strength and might,
and it is in your power to magnify and strengthen all.

(1 Chronicles 29:11-12 CEB)


Everything in heaven and earth (yes, even the money) belongs to God. Therefore, we don’t “own” anything. Rather, we are stewards of everything currently in our possession.


Simply put, a steward is someone who is placed in charge of someone else’s stuff. The principle at work here is that at some point, the steward will have to give an account of how he or she has managed the property belonging to the Master. A steward that proves trustworthy is rewarded, but those who aren’t . . . not so much.


You see, how we handle money is an indicator of how we will steward all the other blessings in our lives. Money is just the easiest one to track. So how do you track this in your own life?


The best way to gauge that for yourself is to figure out who it is that you really serve. Are you putting your trust in the provider or the provision? As Jesus said in the verse that comes right after the passage at the top of this post:


You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one master and love the other. Or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other. You cannot serve God and Money at the same time. (Luke 16:13 ERV)


If you are primarily interested in serving God by stewarding HIS wealth, then your needs will always be met.


However, if your hope is in the money itself, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.A man's wrist handcuffed to a dollar bill

Another day older and deeper in debt. (Public Domain)


The wealthy rule over the poor,
and anyone who borrows is a slave to the lender.

(Proverbs 22:7 ISV)


The Greek word doulos designates a voluntary bondservant, or someone who has chosen to place himself under the authority of another.


However, Jesus said no one can serve two masters at once. You can’t serve God and be a slave to money at the same time. So how do we become a slave to money?




When we spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to satisfy our desires, we are worshipping creations rather than the Creator.


If we are trusting God to provide us with what we truly need, then why would we leave His service to worship at the altar of prosperity?   How prosperous are we really, if we have a big fancy house with no furniture in it or a shiny new sports car that we can’t make the payments on?


It’s bad enough that our nation has promoted a culture that conditions people to believe that they need. . .no, that they DESERVE shiny, fancy, new, expensive things. However, as if people going into debt for unnecessary playthings weren’t enough, now they are being encouraged to further mismanage their wealth by turning to legalized gambling to solve their debt problem.


The one-armed bandits. . .


In my tiny little town of 4,507 people, we have thirteen locations that have slot machines. (I refuse to call them “video gaming facilities.”  Aladdin’s Castle is a video gaming facility. People aren’t going to our bars to play Space Invaders.)


In the month of August 2023 ALONE, a total of $3,062,053.22 was wagered at these thirteen locations.


Let’s do the math.


First, you must be 21 to play the slots, so that eliminates about 1,900 residents. But not all the adults in town play the slots either. Indeed, most don’t even frequent the places that have them.


Nevertheless, even if all 2,600 adults in my town played slots regularly, we would be looking at an average of $1,177 a month PER PERSON being fed to the one-armed bandits. The overall win rate for the sixty-seven machines located within our city limits is 91.1%. So, of the $1,177 per person wagered, the average monthly loss per person is about $104.


But remember, that´s if EVERY SINGLE ADULT in my municipality plays the slots. If it were half of them, that would be $208 per person. If it were 25% (a more likely statistic given the conservative nature of our population), then we would be looking at $416 per person being frittered away.


So, what’s the problem?


Well, do YOU have upwards of $400 of disposable income each month that you can flush down the toilet? Some folks do. However, these are not the folks that typically go to bars in small towns to play slot machines.


Half of the households in our town have a combined income of less than $8,000 a month. A family with that level of income, IF they manage their money well, should have about $120 or so per month after the bills are paid in today´s economy. But again, people that manage their money well are usually not found around slot machines. And remember, the actual amount being wagered per adult here is TEN TIMES that much.


I first researched these statistics in 2015. Just eight years ago, we only had five gambling facilities, not thirteen. The total amount wagered was only about $100,000 a month. In eight years, that figure has multiplied THIRTY TIMES OVER, while our population has actually decreased by about three hundred.


You would think that our city coffers would be running over with gambling revenue.


You would be wrong.


The casinos’ average profit is 8.9% of all amounts wagered. Our city´s take is five percent of the PROFIT, not the wagers. This adds up to city revenue of $3.01 per resident per month. That MIGHT get you a Mini Blizzard at our Dairy Queen if you scrounge around for a few pennies under your car seats to cover the sales tax.


To sum up then, for a resident of my hometown to benefit from a single dollar of gaming revenue, our city´s slot machines must record a MILLION dollars in wagers. Or to look at that another way, every single adult in town would have to LOSE (not bet) $107 to claim their Mini Blizzard.


That´s some expensive dang ice cream! 

Ogon Vanilla Ice Cream with Gold Leaf
By contrast, in Japan, you can get fifteen of these ice cream cones with gold leaf on them and still not spend that much. (jpellgen/flickr)


So, if people can’t afford to be blowing this kind of cash, why do they do it? Well, duh, because they’re trying to make more. They are under the illusion that they’re going to hit some kind of jackpot and be rich. The reality is they will have even less money to pay the bills they were having trouble paying in the first place.


Lest you think I’m going off on a self-righteous jag about gambling, there are other ways to fall into the trap of money mismanagement. I learned my lesson the hard way as well with a series of failed business ventures.


Now I admire people in this country who go into business for themselves and make a lot of money. But it never comes without arduous work. If anyone ever tries to show you how you can be rich beyond your wildest dreams without having to suffer for it, RUN! Anyone who gets involved in a scheme like this hoping to “get rich quick” will find themselves getting broke even quicker.


A Trustworthy Plan


God has a plan for us each day. We are expected simply to be available, receive it, and obey it, carrying it out to its completion. This trustworthy method ALWAYS leads to success, though sometimes it takes a long, long time. We may not even see the big-picture results directly. Trying to get rich quick takes our eye off the plan Jesus has for us, which consequently robs us of the potential blessing attached to that plan.


Fortunately, God’s plan for blessing us in our finances begins with an amazingly simple test of obedience.


(And you´ll hear all about that if you come back for Part 2! Click on the Free Newsletter link to make sure you don´t miss it.)



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