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We believe that everything belongs to God,
who calls us as the church to live as faithful stewards of all that God
has entrusted to us.
As servants of God, our primary vocation is to be stewards in God's
who in Christ has given us new life, has also given us spiritual gifts
to use for the church's nurture and mission.2
The message of reconciliation has been entrusted to every believer, so
that through the church the mystery of the gospel might be made known
to the world.3
We believe that time also belongs to God and that we are to use with
care the time of which we are stewards.4
Yet, from earliest days, the people of God have been called to observe
special periods of rest and worship. In the Old Testament, the seventh
day was holy because it was the day God rested from the work of creation.5
The Sabbath was also holy because of God's deliverance of the Hebrew people
from slavery.6 Through
Jesus, all time is holy, set apart for God and intended to be used for
salvation, healing, and justice.7
In the present time, the church celebrates a day of holy rest, commonly
the first day of the week, and is called to live according to Sabbath
justice at all times.
We acknowledge that God as Creator is owner of all things. In the Old
Testament, the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year were practical expressions
of the belief that the land is God's and the people of Israel belong to
God.8 Jesus, at
the beginning of his ministry, announced the year of the Lord's favor,
often identified with Jubilee. Through Jesus, the poor heard good news,
captives were released, the blind saw, and the oppressed went free.9
The first church in Jerusalem put Jubilee into practice by preaching the
gospel, healing the sick, and sharing possessions. Other early churches
shared financially with those in need.10
As stewards of God's earth, we are called to care for the earth and
to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives on it.11
As stewards of money and possessions, we are to live simply, practice
mutual aid within the church, uphold economic justice, and give generously
As persons dependent on God's providence, we are not to be anxious about
the necessities of life, but to seek first the kingdom of God.13
We cannot be true servants of God and let our lives be ruled by desire
We are called to be stewards in the household of God, set apart for
the service of God. We live out now the rest and justice which God has
church does this while looking forward to the coming of our Master and
the restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.
The word stewardship in the New Testament is used primarily in connection
with stewardship of the gospel. But in the broader sense, stewardship
is related to the idea of God as head of the household, in which Christians
are God's servants or managers or sons and daughters entrusted with
responsibility. First-century households acted as economic units and
often included people not biologically related. Thus, the term stewardship
has come to refer to our responsibility both for sharing the gospel
and for managing time, material things, and money.
Our tradition of simple living is rooted not in frugality for its
own sake, but in dependence on God, the owner of everything, for our
material needs. We depend on God's gracious gifts for food and clothing,
for our salvation, and for life itself. We do not need to hold on
tightly to money and possessions, but can share what God has given
us. The practice of mutual aid is a part of sharing God's gifts so
that no one in the family of faith will be without the necessities
of life. Whether through community of goods or other forms of financial
sharing, mutual aid continues the practice of Israel in giving special
care to widows, orphans, aliens, and others in economic need (Deuteronomy
24:17-22). Tithes and first-fruit offerings were also a part of this
economic sharing (Deuteronomy 26; compare Matthew 23:23).
Economic justice is an integral part of the Sabbath cycle. The Sabbath
year, like the Sabbath day, brought rest and freedom for the land
and for laborers. The seven-times-seventh year or the fiftieth year,
the year of Jubilee, also brought justice and mercy by the return
of family land, release of debts, and freedom for bound laborers (Leviticus
25). The effect of the Sabbath-Jubilee laws was a return to relative
economic equality every fifty years. Jesus taught his disciples to
pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"
(Matthew 6:12). In the age to come, the saints will have the economic
necessities (Revelation 7:15-17). We are to seek first the reign of
God and to cease from consumerism, unchecked competition, overburdened
productivity, greed, and possessiveness.
Not only was the Sabbath observed in Old Testament times; there
is evidence that the sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee were
also observed. Jubilee law appears in Leviticus 25; Leviticus 27:16-25;
and Numbers 36:4. Other references to sabbatical or Jubilee years
occur in Deuteronomy 31:10; 2 Chronicles 36:21; Isaiah 37:30; 61:1-2;
Jeremiah 34:8-22; and Ezekiel 46:17. The first-century Jewish historian
Josephus refers to a time when the Jews in Palestine went hungry because
of a sabbatical or Jubilee year, when the land lay fallow. The Roman
government exempted Judea from tribute during the seventh year. The
practice of the Jerusalem church and the continued financial sharing
of Christian congregations is evidence that the economic aspects of
Jubilee continued to be practiced and adapted to urban settings.
The theology of stewardship makes us aware not only of care for
human beings, but of care for the rest of creation. Animals and fields
benefited from the Sabbath and the sabbatical year. An observance
of Sabbath-Jubilee calls us to take care of and preserve the earth.
We are to commit ourselves to right use of the earth's resources as
a way of living now according to the model of the new heaven and the
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- Luke 12:35-48; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2.
- Peter 4:10-11; Titus 1:7; 2:5.
- Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 3:1-10.
- Psalms 31:15; Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5.
- Exodus 20:8-11.
- Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
- Mark 2:27-28.
- Leviticus 25:23, 42, 55.
- Luke 4:16-21.
- Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15.
- Psalms 24:1; Genesis 1:26-28.
- Phillipians 4:11-12; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14; James 5:4; 2 Corinthians
- Matthew 6:24-33.
- Matthew 11:28-29; Revelation 7:15-17.