Will Costello

Stewardship in a Consumption Culture

A competitive steward is a strategic investor. He seeks to do the greatest (not least) amount of work, for the greatest number of people, in order to bring them the greatest good both now and for eternity! This goal maintains a clear view towards heaven and reminds us that Jesus’ eternally-incentivized plan is for each of us to make His heaven our bank. No investment could possibly be more safe and secure, or come with a stronger guarantee.

Have you ever thought about stewardship as competitive? By competitive, I mean that it is a virtue to strive to be as generous as possible with your time, talents, and money. Competitive stewardship is applying the discipline of an athlete to excel in stewardship.
Competitive stewardship starts with asking probing questions. How does God desire me to live? What limit should my lifestyle have in order to prepare people for eternity? What does it mean to “use the world” but not make “full use” of it, as Paul commanded believers in 1 Cor 7:31? What does it look like to own but not possess, as Paul commanded us in 1 Cor 7:30? What does it mean to not claim anything one owns as “one’s own,” as the early church modeled for us in Acts 4:34? Further, how are we to live as pilgrims just passing through in a culture aggressively insistent on indulgence, record-high consumer debt, and competitive consumption? What impact should the fact that this confused world is literally passing away (1 Cor 7:31) have on a person?
Here are seven convictions of a Competitive Steward:
1. A competitive steward understands what the world doesn’t. Blind sinners have always been slavishly bent on destroying themselves through the empty pursuit of “more and better” things (1 Tim 6:6-8, Lk 12:18), thanks to endless advertising and easy credit. But of what benefit is the unnecessary excess of this world’s goods to a pilgrim Christian living for a mission greater than competitive consumption? As a believer, I am right now headed to a lasting city and a far nicer home than any home in any city in this world (Jn 14:1-3; 1 Jn 2:15-17; Heb 11:10,13:14).
2. A competitive steward owns his theology, not his things. A competitive steward knows he is owned by God (1 Cor 6:19-20) and that what he “owns” is not actually his own, not really (Acts 4:34). But what he does own temporarily he will gladly give to another, if in giving he is successfully meeting a physical or spiritual need, thus bringing delight to the Lord (Acts 4:34, 20:35; 2 Cor 8:5).
3. A competitive steward understands that stewardship is not optional, it’s essential. Following Jesus’ mission is radical and repentance from competitive consumption must take place in order to follow Him (Col 3:5, Lk 14:23).
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