Lesson 5

Stewards After Eden

(Genesis 1-3, Colossians 2, 1 Corinthians 4)
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Introduction: "Steward" is not a term used very much today. "Agent," "representative," "employee" or "manager" are more common terms. But, do those words capture the full meaning of being a steward? More important for our purposes, do they capture the Biblical meaning being God's steward? Let's once more immerse ourselves in God's word to learn more about His goal for us as stewards!

  1. Genesis Stewards


    1. Read Genesis 1:27. What wonderful thing do we learn about humans in this verse? (That God created us in His image!)


      1. What do you think that means? What is the significance of that? (God wants us to be like Him. God gave us a very special gift and identity.)


    2. Read Genesis 1:28. What is our relationship to the rest of the creation? (We are rulers over all of the animals. We are to subdue the earth.)


      1. How many humans would there be in God's original plan? (We are told to "fill the earth.")


    3. Read Genesis 1:29-30. Did we have a special diet? (Yes - vegetables and fruit.)


      1. Was our diet superior to that of the animals? (Yes - they only had "green plants" for their food.)


    4. Step back a minute and think about the position and the responsibility that God gave us. How would you describe it? (God made us the rulers of the earth. Just like He was the Ruler of the Universe, He made us lesser rulers over the earth and everything in it.)


      1. Would you consider this stewardship an obligation or a special privilege?


      2. When you think about the general understanding of being a steward, does the role God gave to us seem more grand? (I think it is much grander. We have an incredible amount of authority and privilege.)


    5. Read Genesis 2:15-17. What stewardship tasks do we have here?


      1. How much of a limit did God place on what humans could eat?


    6. Read Genesis 2:19-20. What stewardship tasks do we find here?


      1. What does this say about the relative relationship between humans and animals? (Giving Adam naming rights shows he was clearly the master over the animals.)


    7. Let's bring what we have discovered in Eden to the question of what God requires of us as stewards. Is being God's steward a job that you would like to have - if we can use Eden as our job description? (Yes!)


      1. What do you like about the job of being God's steward? (1. Authority. 2. The relationship to God - being in the image of God. 3. God doesn't seem to require a large return or "rent." Of all of the trees, we get to eat from all except two. What God seems to want is fellowship. 4. We get to live and work in a great place. And, our work is managerial, not physically taxing.)


  2. Post Eden Stewardship - Financial


    1. Read Genesis 3:16. How has the job description changed for Eve?


      1. Has the managerial part of the work been modified? (Adam was created first, but there was no indication in the creation account that they were not equals. However, Eve distrusted God in the matter of her relative authority (see, Genesis 3:4-6), and thereafter God reduced her rank of authority.)


      2. Why do you think that God made childbirth painful? (In her ability to develop and birth other people, Eve was the closest to being like her creator God. Eve disbelieved that God had made her like Him (see, Genesis 3:4-6), so God made her role as a co-creator something she would not forget.)


    2. Read Genesis 3:17-19. How has the job description changed for Adam?


      1. Why do you think that God made producing food so difficult for Adam? Why that particular penalty? (If you look at Genesis 3:6 and 1 Timothy 2:14, it appears that Adam made the decision to support Eve instead of supporting God. Thus, God decided that in the future, supporting his wife and family would focus his attention on the path he had chosen.)


      2. Would you still want the job of being a steward? (It is still an astonishing job - God seems to give us a huge amount of authority over the rest of the creation. God does not, according to what we have read so far, demand a financial return on His investment. He only requires a time return (Genesis 2:2-3), and that return seems to be mostly a blessing for us.)


    3. Read Malachi 3:7-10. Let's assume the general application of this requirement to us today. What do you think, as a steward, about the "split" between you and God? (On the face of it this is a great deal! Not quite the deal in Eden with the fruit trees, but still great! God demands only 10% - we get 90%.)


    4. Read Malachi 3:10-11. Now tell me about your view of the deal? (This promises that we get "you cannot store it all" back - this certainly must be more than our original 10% back! Give me this stewardship job! Of course, we have not discussed the unspecified amount of offerings.)


  3. Post Eden Stewardship - Spiritual


    1. Read Colossians 2:2-3. What does God want us to have? ("Complete understanding.")


      1. What, again, was the temptation presented to Eve? (Read again Genesis 3:5 - she was offered greater understanding.)


      2. Look again at Colossians 2:2. What is at the heart of a complete understanding? (Understanding the mystery of Jesus and what He has done for us.)


        1. Are we stewards of that information?


    2. Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. Based on what we learned, what is the most important "secret thing" of God? (Who Jesus is! What He has done for humans!)


      1. What do you think it means to be "faithful" with something entrusted to us?


      2. What do you think it means to be faithful with the "secret things of God?" (The same thing Paul was doing - sharing about Jesus with those who did not know about Him.)


    3. Read Matthew 22:39. What kind of stewardship does this suggest? (We have been given the gift of being loved by God. We have been given the gift of eternal life because of the incredible love and sacrifice of Jesus. We are called upon to share this love with others.)


      1. What kind of "split" or "rent" does God suggest here? (This looks more like an even split. We love our neighbor as we love our self, not more and not less.)


        1. Do you think God intended us to put a number or percentage on this split? (No. With our finances or our time we could put a number. With love, especially the kind of love we learn about in the "mystery of God" (Jesus), the obligation seems total.)


    4. Read Ephesians 6:13-17. What kind of non-financial stewardship is suggested here?


      1. Why use a warrior as an illustration of our stewardship? (Read Ephesians 6:11-12. We are stewards to a Lord who is in battle against the "powers of this dark world" and "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.")


      2. If we are in battle, doesn't that say something important about the neat and precise numbers we previously discussed about our financial and time return obligations? (God did, at one point, give minimum numbers and explained His return system. But, that seems to reflect a floor (not a ceiling) on what God is looking for in His stewards.)


    5. Friend, God has given us a great job! As His stewards, we have great authority and opportunity. God does not require much of us in terms of the minimum financial returns for our stewardship. However, He expects that we will reflect His love and we will stand faithful to Him. Will you, right now, accept God's job offer?


  4. Next week: The Marks of a Steward.

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