Tony Evans - The Responsibility of Kingdom Stewardship
If you are an American citizen, then you live here under a kingdom covenant. The kingdom, the country of America, has a covenant. It's called a constitution. It's the overarching governing definition of who we are, or who we are to be as a nation. It has a very specific goal: life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue happiness. It is supported by numbers of amendments that accent the constitution in its application in various elements of our lives. You are a citizen because you were either born here or naturalized here. But regardless of your background, your race, your class, your culture, the covenant stays the same. You are underneath the constitution of the United States of America.
God has a kingdom. And that kingdom is controlled by a covenant. And the covenant of his kingdom is to be managed by his stewards. His stewards are to pledge allegiance to the covenant that belongs to the kingdom. When there are people in the kingdom who rebel against the covenant, then they are in opposition to the king. Our series is called, "Kingdom Stewardship". We have defined that a steward is a believer who is responsible to manage, not own, what has been entrusted to them by God for them to oversee on his behalf. Every believer is called a steward, a manager, or a caretaker of that which is entrusted to them in terms of time, talents, and treasures.
The purpose of your stewardship, your managerial responsibility, is stated in verse 18. Let me read that again, "But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who is giving you the power to make wealth, that he may confirm his covenant which he swore". The purpose of a kingdom steward in the management of time, talents, and treasures is to confirm a covenant. You have heard me regularly bring up the word "covenant". It is the defining word of your spiritual existence. It is a key theological term that if you ever grab it, your whole life will shift. He says, "If you will keep my covenant, then you will experience my kingdom".
Many people today are not experiencing God's kingdom because they refuse to keep his covenant. His covenant is a divinely created bond predicated on a relationship. So, when God talks about a covenant, he's talking about going deeper with him relationally in order to have a greater experience of him because you're operating in this official bonded relationship. Covenant, covenant, covenant, covenant, you'll find that word from Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation 'cause that's his word underneath his kingdom by which his kingdom operates. And the greater experience of God confirming, validating, experiencing his reality is part of our experience.
Now, he said in Exodus 19 that, "You will be in my covenant if you keep my commandment". Here is what you need to know about the covenant. The covenant provides a covering, okay. The covenant provides a covering. The illustration I give is an umbrella, the umbrella covers you. You can have an umbrella, but not have it open. If you have an umbrella, but don't have it open, you're uncovered even though you have it. If you're a Christian, you're in the covenant, it just may be closed. And if you're a Christian, but you're in the covenant, but the covenant is closed, then you have a covering, but you're living uncovered. A covenant provides a covering. So, what the enemy wants to do is to get all of us to close our umbrellas. That is, to not function underneath the covenant. Now, an umbrella doesn't keep it from raining, it just keeps it from raining on you.
So, the covenant is designed to cover you so that the maximum experience of God progressively in your life is taking place. You are confirming it, you are validating it, vindicating it. So, the covenant is a divinely created relational bond. And it is through the covenant that God expresses his pleasure. Because in the covenant, you're getting to know him more, you're getting to know him better. And here it is, the more you know him, the more you get an experience with him. Many don't get more of an experience with him because they don't deepen their ability to know him. God has children who want independence on his dime. He says, "The earth is mine".
Because a kingdom steward means you own nothing, nothing. You own nothing, not even your own life, the Bible says. The Bible says your body is not your own. One day, all of you, it will be taken from you or you will be taken from it. It's not yours. And until you adopt the mindset it's not mine, I am a manager, a caretaker, a steward of what is entrusted in me, you are now in conflict with the covenant, which means you're not operating under the kingdom, which means you're at odds with the king. He says, "This is to confirm the covenant". Because in God's kingdom is where he expresses his dominion.
The Bible is clear, watch this, that the goal of the covenant is to deepen your relationship and experience of God. Let me say that again, the goal of the covenant is to deepen God being real to you. Ezekiel 16, verse 62 says, "I have given you my covenant, that you might know me". God says, "My covenant is a love thing, and I want you to have one for me". Because that is what brings the covenant, this binding relationship. So many Christians are living in defeat because they're outside of alignment with the covenant.
And how do you know if you're in alignment? There's only one way you know it. You know you're in alignment because, he says, "You are keeping my commandment". In other words, if what you're doing is not what God wants, you're out of alignment with the covenant. If what you do and what God says disagrees, you're out of alignment with the covenant and therefore, you're diminishing the relationship with the living God. God delivered them from Egypt, salvation. He's taking them to the Promised Land, destiny. But in order to get from Egypt to the place of blessing, they had to go through a parcel of land called the wilderness.
So, let me tell you about the wilderness. It's dry, barren, no food, no water, boring, painful, and undesirable. And God said, "And I took you through it". Why does God take his people through the wilderness? Why does he allow dry spells in your life, scorpions in your existence, says fiery serpents, he says there was no food, there was no water, and I took you there? If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you have been through the wilderness. And if you haven't been through the wilderness, it's coming. Where God leads you, he's in front of you, directing you into a dry spot, into an empty place, into a painful trip, and I took you there. But why, God, why you want to take me through a wilderness?
He tells you in the wilderness, he has one lesson and one lesson alone. The lesson in the wilderness is, "You can't make it without me". The lesson in the wilderness is, "I'm gonna let you go hungry so that you know that I'm the source of your food. I'm gonna let you go thirsty so that you know I'm the source of your water. I'm going to let you not see things work out so that you are reminded, you don't own a thing. And if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't eat, you wouldn't drink, your shoes would wear out, you would not make it if it were not for me". He says the wilderness is on purpose. And it's on purpose to position you with the right mentality because he knows our propensity to forget.
He says, "But remember". He warns them in verse 11, "Beware that you do not forget". He warns them in verse 14, "Your heart will become proud and you will forget". In other words, remembrances are designed for us to not forget the benefits that have accrued to us because of something that happened in the past. God knows our propensity to forget him, particularly when we already have what we need. So he says, "Look, I have got to give you the wilderness. And I will give it to you for as long as you need it".
In other words, they weren't supposed to be in the wilderness 40 years. They were supposed to be in the wilderness 40 days. But because they never learned the lesson, it went year after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year, after year. And God has got as much time as it takes for you to get the lesson, "You don't own this, it's all mine. And I want you dependent on me, not dependent on your own human resources independently of me. You are a manager, not an owner". But there's actually good news in the wilderness 'cause he says, "Even though you're in a dry place, nothing's working out for you, I rain down manna from above".
So, God will often put you in a wilderness where he has to go supernatural on you, or else you don't eat. He backs you up against a corner and you don't know how you're going to make it. And until you become dependent, he will keep you. And if you know somebody who can pull you out the wilderness, or you get some hookup that can illegitimately pull you out the wilderness, he'll turn that into a brand new wilderness. He says, "To humble you", and he says, "and I do it because I love you, and I want a relationship". The purpose of a kingdom steward is to confirm a covenant, to validate a covering. Deuteronomy 29:9 says, "I have given", watch this now, "I have given you this covenant that you may prosper".
The covenant is always designed for your improvement. It's never designed to hurt you. The covenant is always designed to help you, to prosper you. And how does he do it? According to verse 18, he says he is giving you the power to make wealth. God has put in creation massive potential. No place you go, nothing you do in any area of life is accomplished without you borrowing from creation. The steel, the aluminum, the bricks, the wood, the whatever you make, whatever you wear, whatever they have had to borrow that from creation.
Now, wealth in the Bible is not merely tied to dollars 'cause you could have money and be emotionally poor, circumstantially poor. Wealth is tied to whatever the time, talents, and treasures, resources that God has put at your disposal that he wants you to use to advance his kingdom. That is wealth. It includes the resources that we talk about normally, but it's bigger than that. Haggai chapter 2, verse 8, God says, "The silver and the gold is mine". 1 Chronicles chapter 29, verses 10 to 13, he says, "Riches and honor come from me". You can get wealth by being honored. So, it has to do with God's provision. Now, what he says I give you is power, why? Because I've already created the wealth. I'm giving you the ability to unearth it, the power. Everything you do, you only get to do because God provided the ability to do it.
Psalm chapter 25 reads this way beginning with verse 12. "Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should go. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land". Now verse 14, "The secret of the Lord is for those who fear him. He will make them know his covenant". So, watch this. One of the powers that God gives when you are aligned relationally, when you are pursuing a relationship with him underneath his covenant, which means you're obeying his commands, is he gives you his ideas. He brings thoughts to your mind, ideas into your brain, things you weren't thinking about doing, places you weren't thinking about going, people you weren't thinking about meeting, and he says, "I will instruct him along the way. I'm going to give him the guidelines that he needs in order to go where I want him to go".
What God gives us is ideas. Because many of us mess up 'cause we do the wrong thing, 'cause we're thinking the wrong thought. But if you can get the right thought to do the right thing, you can save a lot of time, energy, frustration, irritation, exacerbation, and messing up your life, why? Because the covenant gives you ideas. "I will instruct him. I will make known to him. I'm going to bring things into his thinking. Because he fears, relationally, me, he takes me seriously, and he's operating in line with me, so I'm going to reveal to him my covenant". And then he will have the power because the power to do something comes from the thinking about doing it. So, if you can get the thought, then you know what you ought to do. And so, what God does in this covenantal agreement is give you the power to produce by even giving you the thoughts to think.
Now, I want to give you a closing verse because it puts things in alignment. Remember, the goal of the covenant, Deuteronomy 29:9, is always to prosper, always to take you to the next level. 3 John, the second verse. In the New Testament, John says, "I pray that you will prosper and be in good health". And then it says, "Even as your soul prospers". So, if you love your money more than God, if you love your job more than God, if you love your career more than God, if you love your resources more than God, if you love your relationship more than God, then the lack of prospering in your soul means, all that other stuff will be in trouble.
So, one of the major problems we have is souls not prospering while the non-prospering souls are praying the prayer to be prospered. And God can't answer prayer over here if you're neglecting relationship over here. When you buy an appliance, if it's a new appliance, it comes with a warranty. You know what the warranty says? The manufacturer is going to stand behind the product. If something not working, the manufacturer is going to take care of it. But there's a proviso in the warranty. You cannot use the equipment for something other than what it was created for. 'Cause once you start doing something that it wasn't been made to do, you can invalidate the warranty.
So, I just want to let you know now God has a warranty for your life. He has a warranty, if you're a Christian, he has a warranty over you, and that warranty comes with a covenantal guarantee. But the assumption is that you're using your life for what the manufacturer created it for. And he created it for his glory, his kingdom, and his covenant. The moment you start operating behind enemy lines, the moment you start operating against the manufacturer owner's specifications, then you're invalidating the warranty, and now you wonder why prayers aren't being answered, peace isn't being given, and victory is not being achieved. Because you done messed up the warranty. So, I challenge you now, even if you're in the wilderness, come underneath the covering of God by coming to know him and his covenant so that he's free now to warranty the product of your life.
God makes it clear that the driving purpose for our stewardship life is to advance the covenant of his kingdom. Remember, a covenant is a divinely created relational bond specifically designed to advance God's purpose in the world. When we take what God has entrusted to us and we do not relate to it covenantally, that is in this intimate relationship for his purpose that he is doing in our lives, with our lives, and for our lives to advance what he is doing in the world, then we miss our purpose. And when you miss your purpose, all that fills that void is emptiness or distraction. One of the reasons we go after distractions in our lives is because we've lost sight of our purpose. And we take our time and our talents and particularly our treasures, and we reverse the reason why we have them.
And so, people are very interested in being blessed by God so that God can give me what I need to fulfill my purpose, rather than give me what he has for me so I can fulfill his purpose and enjoy the process along the way. When you miss that, when his covenant, when this arrangement of relationship with him and what he is seeking to do in history is lost, and we only live for three people, me, myself, and I, then we are driving toward what Solomon calls a life of vanity. Because it has been detached from the attachment that God wants to have, that's a covenant, that's his attachment, and us fulfilling the reason why we are living. Don't waste your life. And I don't want to waste my life on fulfilling our purposes independent of his purpose. And his purpose is always in relationship to him to advance his kingdom through what he calls his covenant.