In the Bible, “stewardship” is the wise management of the resources that God has entrusted to us. It existed way back in the Garden of Eden, before sin had entered the world. Adam and Eve were told “tend and keep” the Garden that was their home (Genesis 2:15). This was always pleasant work; only after the Fall did labor became difficult for people because of the corrupting effects of sin on our world. But work is still our calling, and it can still be a source of fulfillment for us even with its challenges. We must work to provide for ourselves and families. If we do it in a God-honoring way, He will bless our labors.
Today’s passage from Proverbs paints a picture of how biblical work and stewardship should look for our lives. First, work must provide for our needs. Being able to put food on the table and pay our bills is more important than having a job or title that sounds really cool but doesn’t cover our expenses (Proverbs 12:9). As middle and high school students thinking about future careers, you should be picking jobs that will earn enough money to live off. Likely income should not be the only consideration in choosing a career path, but it must be an important factor in your decision. For now, do your best in every school subject so that you will keep many doors open for you to choose between after high school. Second, Christians should be good stewards or managers of their abilities and resources (Proverbs 12:10). We should be careful and not wasteful with our skills, knowledge, time, and physical stuff. Learning to plan your time is an important skill that should be developed while you are still in school. You can also learn to take good care of your school supplies and your possessions at home. Learning not to buy everything that jumps out at you at the store, something called “impulse control” while shopping, is another valuable life skill that students should work on (so buying crazy, overpriced stuff at gift shops, for example – not a great idea). Finally, working hard consistently is the way to prosper in life; dreaming up schemes to get rich without hard work is foolish and will not pay off in the end (Proverbs 12:11). We should work smart, to be sure, but we must still work hard to provide for ourselves and others; there are no lazy shortcuts to success.
So this is the biblical model of work and stewardship, captured in just three short verses today. God has not left us without guidance in this big part of life. The question is: Are we willing to do what God’s Word says and become wise workers and stewards?
The Text (Proverbs 12:9-11)
9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.
10 A righteous man regards [even] the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity [silliness] is devoid of understanding.
Questions to Think About
- Have you thought about what career you want to pursue after high school? Do you know if your career choice will be able to provide enough money for you and your future family? This would be a good discussion topic with your parents!
- How are you doing at taking care of your stuff? Do you often have to throw things away because you didn’t take care of them? Do you replace things faster than they need to be replaced (always getting “new” items when the old ones are still fine)?
- If you have an allowance or get money from your parents to spend for events and occasions, how are you doing at managing and wisely spending your money?