Stewardship is a fascinating word. Its full power is often undermined by our limited acceptance and application of it, utilizing it only to talk about time or money. However, the expanse of the word goes beyond profound and enters into the realm of potent and compelling when we consider what such a word means. Simply put, it signifies the administration of something, but when it comes to our Christian life, the word indicates “the administration of God’s saving purpose” (1). Therefore, when Paul discloses himself to be a steward it comes with gravity and seriousness (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 3:2).
Stewardship then conveys a level of sincerity and solemnity that go beyond an individual and extend to the furthering of God’s kingdom. This concept then extends beyond our money and time and into every realm of our being. If stewardship is such a serious inflection in the Christian life, what meaning does it have upon our testimony? If we are called to be stewards of the Gospel for the sake of God’s glory, does this not mean we should also take care of stewarding our testimony?
Our testimony has the propensity to attract or detract from the testimony for the gospel message. While certainly our testimony does not act apart from the Holy Spirit in bringing someone to the point of salvation, it is carefully considered in a person’s evaluation of the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the gospel message. Furthermore, a rightfully stewarded testimony can impact our relationship with fellow believers as well because it becomes a tool to evaluate both our truthfulness and trustworthiness also. On it, relationships can be built and destroyed. Therefore, the seriousness of stewardship encompasses our testimony as well.
I confess an overwhelmed spirit when I consider the depth of such a commitment to Christ. Stewarding one’s testimony initiates the following lifestyle:
- Responding with Christlikeness and towards God’s glory in the pleasant eras of life.
- Responding with Christlikeness and towards God’s glory in the unpleasant eras of life.
- Responding with Christlikeness and towards God’s glory when we don’t respond correctly in the previous circumstances (meaning that if we respond incorrectly, then we acknowledge and correct it with Christlike humility).
A rightly stewarded testimony then necessitates that we put on Christ and follow him regardless of the circumstances.
Such a daunting task is not one that can be done in one’s own strength, nor should one try to do it in his or her own strength. First, because of both its implications and its extensiveness, stewarding our testimony requires nothing less than the work of God in our lives and therefore indicates a reliance upon the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the Lord has given us the gift of Christian friendship so that we are surrounded by people who can keep us accountable, but even more, because of the depth of the relationship they can do so while conveying a godly love.
Our testimonies define who we are in the eyes of others and often times define how they view Christianity (and therefore how they may view God). Even more than that serious charge, our testimonies are a gift of God and like any gift, we should enjoy them, recognize their preciousness, and therefore tend to them. It is often said that actions speak louder than words, but how much more significant is it when words and actions converge. (1) Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2000). #3622.
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