The apostle Paul
wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:2: “Moreover it is required
in stewards that one be found faithful.”
We learned in our last lesson that stewards are
those who manage the goods of another and work to do
their master's will.
We saw an example of a good steward in Abraham's
servant; he was indeed faithful in understanding, in
performing, and in achieving his master's desire to find
a wife for Isaac.
Likewise, our stewardship “is the managing of
life and all its resources for God and for the good of
others. ... This stewardship is not something [we]
suddenly decide to do.
[Each Christian] is a steward [because of
what God has entrusted] and cannot escape [this
We are] either good or bad
The Communist view of property is that [an individual]
is merely an instrument of the state with no rights to
title or true possessions.
Almost half the world is in the grips of this
Capitalistic view is that [an individual] can rightfully
purchase [property] and control instruments and
[In contrast to these views], the Christian view is that
God owns all; although [an individual] may be blessed
with abundance and have control over it, [such wealth]
is [really acquired] only be means of a gracious [Giver
and generous] Providence.
Even then, [such material prosperity] is not
[our] own to use as [we] please, but it should be
employed for the service of mankind for the glory of
God” (Layton, TGA).
Today, we want to look at the flip side of last
An atheist who became a Christian once said, “I
want to explain my past to you so that you can lean what
Today’s lesson will show us several examples of bad
stewardship and their wrongs, so that we may learn what
NOT to do with regards to our stewardship.
The first example of bad stewardship are the Jews
who lived around 420 B. C.
The prophet of this era was Malachi.
Let’s notice what God says in Malachi 1:6-8:
“‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master.
If then I am the Father, where is My honor?
And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?’
says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My
you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ ‘You
offer defiled food on My altar, but say, “In what way
have we defiled You?”
By saying, “The table of the Lord is
And when you offer the lame and sick is it no
it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?’”
God is like a father and a master, but the Jews
are not honoring or showing Him any reverence.
The priest even despise God’s Name and defile his
altars by offering the people’s sacrifices which are not
the best of the flocks but are the worst of them—the
lame and the blind.
God asks pointedly if such a gift would be
pleasing to their governor.
Of course, it would not be.
So we see that the Jews and the priests were
really offering God their leftovers, weren’t they?
Why did they do that ?
Malachi wants them all to see that they have a
Do we want to honor God?
Do we see worship as worthless?
Someone has discovered, after interviewing
members in many congregations, that one third of the
congregation gives over $20 per week to the collection,
the next third gives between $5-$20, and the last third
gives between $0-$5.
Would that pattern fit our congregation?
What third would you be in?
If that pattern fits us, maybe we need to examine
our attitude because it sounds like we might be offering
God our leftovers too.
Let’s have the right attitude and give God our
The next example of a bad steward is the lazy
servant found in Matthew 25:14-30.
You probably remember this parable of Jesus.
A wealthy man leaves money in the hands of his
servants for them to use to make his further profits.
The first and second servants use their funds
wisely and make their master substantial profits, for
which they are praised and rewarded.
The third servant, however, was very different.
Let’s begin reading in verse 24: “Then he who
had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew
you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not
And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in
Look, there you have what is yours!’
But His lord answered and said to him, ‘You
wicked and lazy servant…’”, and then the lord
rebuked that servant and said that he should have given
the funds to bankers so that he could have a profit off
What we see here is a wrong action.
This steward did nothing with what was given him!
Is that our action as well?
Are we failing to help the Lords’ work with what
has been entrusted to us?
This stewards’ master was certainly not pleased
with such an irresponsible usage of his funds!
Would God be angry with us as well for our
irresponsible usage of the wealth with which He has
Someone wrote this little poem: “That man may last, but
never lives, who much receive but nothing gives.
Whom few can love, and none can thank [for
heaven’s causes, his checkbook’s] blank.” (Gibbon in
Let’s have the right actions, doing what we can to help
the Lords’ work.
The next example are the Gadarenes of Mark 5:1-17.
Remember in this story how Jesus confronts a man
that has many evil spirits.
Jesus casts these demons out of the man, and the
demons ask if they can enter into a herd of pigs.
Jesus gives them permission, and the whole herd
runs down a steep place and then is drowned in the sea.
So the pigs’ owners run off and tell everyone in
the city what has happened.
They all come out and see the man who was demon
possessed being submissive, dressed, and sane.
So the story was recounted to the people how
Jesus had healed the man and caused the pigs to drown.
Verse 17 says: “Then they [the Gadarenes]
began to plead with Him to depart from their region.”
Why did they ask Jesus to leave?
One brother has made this good observation:
“Their interest in the prices of the hog market went a
long way toward the request they made for Jesus to leave
their borders. … They had lost all their interest in
humanity [and divinity].
What did it matter to them that a man had been
made whole and [was sane] again [or that the Son of God
had done it and was among them] when they had lost
[their primary source of income]?
Anything that did not contribute to their
financial profit was worthless to them” (Layton).
Here we see a wrong assessment, don’t we?
Pigs and pocketbooks were deemed to have more
value than a man’s sanity and Jesus’ presence!
Where are our values?
Do investments, stocks, bond, lands, houses,
cars, entertainers, sports, and gadgets have more value
to us than the Lord’s work and the church’s future?
Someone gave us a warning with this little poem:
form the mountainside, washed in the glen, servant am I,
or the master of men.
Steal me, I curse you; earn me, I bless you,
grasp me and hoard me, [I soon] shall possess you.
Lie for me, die for me, covet me, take me; angel
or devil, I am what you make me” (Guiterman in Layton).
Let’s have a proper assessment of what God has
entrusted to us!
The fourth example is the rich fool of Luke
Jesus had affirmed that life does not consist in the
abundance of things.
Then to illustrate that truth, He told about a
rich man who had had a bumper crop.
It was so plentiful that he would be able to tear
down his present barns and build bigger ones.
In fact, let’s begin reading with verse 19:
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods
laid up for many years; take your ease: eat, drink, and
But God said to him, ‘Fool!
This night your soul will be required of you;
then whose will those things be which you have
So is he who lays up treasure for himself , and is not
rich towards God.”
This rich man thought that he had many years
to live in pleasure, but God cut short his dreams by
announcing that he would die.
The parable ends with Jesus underscoring that the
rich man had not worked to lay up for himself treasures
in heaven; the man was not using what God had entrusted
him to Gods’ glory.
Here we see a wrong investment of the
master’s goods, don’t we?
He was thinking “More crops!”, but God was
wanting “More good deeds!”
He was thinking, “Bigger barns!”, but God was
wanting “Bigger soup kitchens!”
He was thinking, “Increased pleasure!”, but God
was wanting “Increased service!”
Yes, he was investing in earthly treasures but
was ignoring heavenly treasures.
What about us?
Are we making wrong investments?
Someone has calculated that if all American
church members in all churches would increase their
giving to 10% of their incomes, this would generate
close to $168 billion, which could be used to supply
essential sanitation needs, proper infant care,
immunizations, basic education, long-term developmental
efforts, and more missionaries all around the world (www.emptytomb.org/potential.
proud of this congregation’s humanitarian and missions
efforts, but how many more new missionaries and
ministries could be added if we were all striving to
give 10% of our incomes?
Someone put it this way: “Not what we have, but
what we use; not what we see, but what we choose—These
are the things that mar or bless, the sum of [a
church’s] happiness” (Layton).
Let’s put our investments into heavenly
The next bad example is plainly spelled out in Luke
12:42-48 where we see a foolish steward’s actions.
Let’s begin reading in verse 45: “But if that
servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his
coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female
servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master
of that servant will come on a day when his is not
looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware,
and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with
Here we see who one who had the wrong
He began to consider himself no longer
accountable to his master, so he began mistreating
others and using his master’s goods only for his own
This master’s indignation at this disrespectful
and proud steward is certainly evident!
Have we lost our sense of accountability to God?
Do we see ourselves as the master of all our
goods and have we forgotten that God is really the Giver
of all good things?
James tells us in 1:17: “Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and comes down form
the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or
shadow of turning.”
There was an engineer in 1977 who designed a
graceful tower in New York City.
After its opening, he was elected to the National
Academy of Engineering.
But one year after the building’s opening, he
came to a frightening realization that the tower was
flawed because some joints had been bolted rather than
calculated that strong winds could buckle the joints on
floor, and the whole building could tumble down.
He knew that if he blew the whistle on himself,
he could face law suits, probably bankruptcy, and
Since lives were at stake, however, he notified
all parties of his discovery.
The city and corporate leaders acted in a
professional way, options were discussed, and plans were
made to strengthen the joints by welding steel plates.
The building is now able to withstand even the
strongest of winds.
The repair costs millions, but the engineer’s
reputation was not destroyed, but enhanced!
Another engineer commented that he admired his
honest courage: “Here’s a man who said: ‘I got a
problem; I made the problem; let’s fix the problem”
We are accountable to God.
When it comes to giving do we need to confess:
“Lord, I’ve got a problem; I’ve made the problem; now
let’s fix this problem.”
Let’s not forget that God is our master and that
we are accountable to Him for that which He has
entrusted to our care.
The next bad example is the rich man who ignored the
poor man named Lazarus.
The story is found in Luke 16:19-31.
You probably remember it well.
The rich man was dressed in purple and fared
sumptuously every day while a poor beggar named Lazarus
was brought daily to the rich man’s gate.
The both die, and Lazarus goes to paradise while
the rich man goes into torment.
In this life, Lazarus was the beggar, but in the
afterlife, the rich man became the beggar.
We see here an example of wrong distribution.
The rich man had goods and wealth, but he was
unwilling to share them to distribute them to others
One person who works among the poor shares these
stories: “I saw one woman in a crowd struggle to get a
meal from one of our food vans, and when I asked her if
it was worth the fight, she relied, ‘Oh, yes, I don’t
eat the meal myself but give it to an elderly woman who
can’t fight for a mean any more.’
I saw a street kid get $20 panhandling outside a
store and then ran inside to share it with his friends.
I met a little girl who was homeless and asked
her what she wanted to do when she grew up, and she
replied that she wanted to own a grocery store so she
could give out food to hungry people.
Someone has said, ‘In the poor, we meet Jesus in
His most distressing disguises.’” (Claiborne as quoted
“Shamgar had an oxgoad, Rahab had a string,
Gideon had a trumpet, David had a sling.
Samson had a jawbone, Moses had a rod, Dorcus had
a needle, but all were used for God” (Layton).
Let’s use our wealth for God and share our goods
with those who are truly needy!
The next example is the rich young ruler in Luke
This guy had three things going for him; he was rich, he
was young, and he was a ruler.
He asked the right question when he asked Jesus
what he should do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus told him to keep the commandments, and he
said that he’d done that .
Then Jesus challenged him at the heart level in
verse 22: “Jesus said to him, ‘You still lack one
all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you
have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me.’
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful,
for he was very rich.”
This man had
the wrong loyalty.
He thought he loved God supremely until Jesus
challenged him at his devotion level.
Then he saw how greatly he was attached to
Where is our loyalty?
Here’s a modern parable: “Three young swallows
were perched on a branch that stretched out over a lake.
One adult swallow got alongside the chicks and
started shoving them out toward the end or the
branch—pushing, pushing, pushing.
The end one fell off.
Somewhere between the branch and the water below,
the wings stared working and the fledgling was off on
Then the second one.
The third one, however, was not to be bullied.
At the last possible moment, his grip on the
branch loosened just enough so that he swung downward,
then it tightened its talons again, bulldog tenacious.
The parent pecked at the desperately clinging
talons until it was more painful for the chick to hang
on than risk the insecurities of flying.
The grip was released and the wings began
So, what’s the point?
Birds can walk, and they can cling, but flying is
their characteristic action and not until they fly are
they living at their best.
Giving is what we do best.
Sharing is the air into which we were born.
It is [our characteristic] action [in which we
show our living at its best.]
Some people try desperately to hold on to
themselves [and all their goods]; they hang on to the
branch of selfishness, afraid to risk themselves on
their untried wings of giving.
Many people don’t think they can share generously
because they have just never tried” (Peterson quoted on
Let’s remember that Jesus told us we cannot serve
two masters—will it be money or God?
Where’s our loyalty?
The last example is that “generous” couple known as
Ananias and Sapphira seen in our read this morning, Acts
What was their sin?
The commentaries give three actions: firstly,
they desired to the praise of men that the gift would
prompt; secondly, they were moved by greed, and the
prospect of giving the entire amount just seemed to
difficult; thirdly, they lied by trying to pass off to
Peter and the other members that they had given the
Peter’s words in verse 9 are very significant:
“How is it that you have agreed together to test the
Spirit of the Lord?”
They had premeditatedly agreed to keep one part
while saying that they had given it all.
Here we see a wrong plan for giving.
They wanted to appear generous when they were
So, we see how such hypocrisy, greed, and lying
were severely punished by God!
How do you plan your giving?
This story shows that we’d better be serious
Here’s a simple four part challenge for you: firstly,
don’t buy everything that you think you need because you
probably can live just as well without it; secondly, pay
off your debts because there is no better feeling than
being debt free; thirdly, freeze your credit card
(literally)—put them in the freezer and don’t touch
them; lastly, when you get paid, put aside your
contribution to the church first, right off the top
(hopefully, 10% or even more) and resolve that those
funds for the Lord’s work and for helping others will
not be touched or borrowed from.
Let’s determine that we will seek God’s kingdom
first (even with our income); it will have priority!
Someone has admonished us with these words: “It
is not what we earn that makes us rich, as riches are
really known; but how honest we are as we lay our hand
on what we call our own.
It is not what we keep that gives us peace in an
age when peace is rare, but how truthful we are as we
lay aside our own and the Master’s share” (Layton).
Let’s plan properly so that we can truly give to
the Lord generously!
We’ve seen eight examples of bad stewardship: the
Jews with the wrong attitude, the lazy servant with his
wrong action, the Gadarenes with their wrong assessment,
the rich fool with his wrong investment, the foolish
servant with his wrong accountability, the rich man with
his wrong distribution of goods, the rich young ruler
with his wrong loyalty, and a covetous couple with their
Hopefully, this lesson has helped us learn what NOT to
build out cities glorious if man unbuilded goes?
In vain we build the work unless the builder also
grows” (Markham quoted by Layton)!
We will either prove ourselves bad or good
Let’s use the wealth that God has entrusted to us for
the service of mankind and for the glory of our Almighty
“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found