Stewardship

Gary North

Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant model:

1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history

This is understood in terms of five questions.

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

These five points are inescapable in economics.

1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

This course began with an Introduction. Then you were sent Lesson 1. It was devoted to a study of Jesus’ parable of the talents. The owner prepared to leave town. He allocated capital to his servants. Some invest their coins. Another buried his coin. The owner returned to judge their performance. He took the coin from the man who buried it and gave it to the most successful investor. The successful ones inherited new kingdoms. This parable follows the five-point covenant model as it applies to economics.

The mark of God’s sovereignty is the tithe. I covered this in the next lesson. This was an aspect of Point 1.

We now come to the second point in the covenant: stewardship.

Stewardship

God delegated comprehensive authority to mankind in general. This original delegation of authority defines mankind. It cannot be escaped. This is the dominion covenant.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Gen. 1:26-28).

He reconfirmed this covenant with Noah and his sons.

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things (Gen. 9:1-3).

Finally, Jesus reconfirmed it after His resurrection. But He modified it. He established it with His followers, not with mankind in general.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus’ transfer of authority to His followers was based on His authority in history as a perfect man who fulfilled God’s law. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

God’s transfer of authority to mankind is two-fold: (1) as a disinherited son of Adam, who came under a curse in history; (2) as an adopted son of God through Christ.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:20-22).I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:9-10).

There are therefore two kingdoms: (1) the kingdom of Satan, disguised as the kingdoms of men; (2) the kingdom of God, manifested as the kingdom of Christ, God’s Son. They are both kingdoms by covenant. They both reflect the five points of the covenant.

There is constant competition for top position in history, in every area of life. There is a debate over “Who’s in charge here?” There is also a debate over “To whom do I report?”

Borrowing and Lending

According to Moses, this competition is manifested in terms of credit and debt. Who is the lender, and who is the borrower? Moses wrote:

And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them (Deut. 28:11-13)The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee (Deut. 28:43-45).

Solomon reconfirmed this. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7).

This brings us to you. I ask these five questions. Answer them honestly, please.

1. Who is lord of your life?
2. Are you a net borrower or a net lender?
3. Which kingdom are you financing?
4. Who is reaping the blessings of your productivity?
5. To whom will you leave your inheritance?

The proof of your answer to question #1 should be evident in your monthly budget: the tithe. Is it?

Which absorbs a larger percentage of your income: God’s tithe or your lenders’ interest payments? (I am not speaking here of your mortgage’s interest, which is payment for a long-term capital good — a payment that you have substituted for a rental payment to a house owner. But if you live in a nicer house than you would be willing to rent, then this extra payment is consumer debt.)

Your budget’s figures do not lie. They testify to your reality.

Your Testimony Before God

If your spending pattern testifies to your loyalty to Satan’s kingdom rather than God’s, which testimony do you intend to continue?

This is why a Christian who is in debt for depreciating consumer goods is in sin. His spending pattern testifies against his official testimony at church.

Are you double minded? James warned:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:5- 8).

How unstable are you? How stable do you want to be? Remember the three questions.

1. What do I want to achieve?
2. How soon do I want to achieve it?
3. What am I willing to pay (do without)?

Homework Assignment

Use one of the calculators on my site to determine how long it will take you to get out of debt at your present rate of repayment, assuming no new debt.

Note: This time estimate should apply after you are tithing.

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