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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 21. Christian Stewardship
We believe that
everything belongs to God, who calls us as the church to live as
faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.
As servants of God, our
primary vocation is to be stewards in God's household.  God, who in Christ has given us new life,
has also given us spiritual gifts to use for the church's nurture and
mission.  The message of reconciliation
has been entrusted to every believer, so that through the church the
mystery of the gospel might be made known to the world. 
We believe that time also
belongs to God and that we are to use with care the time of which we
are stewards.  Yet, from earliest days,
the people of God have been called to observe special periods of rest
and worship. In the Old Testament, the seventh day was holy because it
was the day God rested from the work of creation.  The Sabbath was also holy because of
God's deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery.  Through Jesus, all time is holy, set
apart for God and intended to be used for salvation, healing, and
justice.  In the present time, the
church celebrates a day of holy rest, commonly the first day of the
week, and is called to live according to Sabbath justice at all times.
We acknowledge that God
as Creator is owner of all things. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath
year and the Jubilee year were practical expressions of the belief that
the land is God's and the people of Israel belong to God.  Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry,
announced the year of the Lord's favor, often identified with Jubilee.
Through Jesus, the poor heard good news, captives were released, the
blind saw, and the oppressed went free. 
The first church in Jerusalem put Jubilee into practice by preaching
the gospel, healing the sick, and sharing possessions. Other early
churches shared financially with those in need. 
As stewards of God's
earth, we are called to care for the earth and to bring rest and
renewal to the land and everything that lives on it.  As stewards of money and possessions, we
are to live simply, practice mutual aid within the church, uphold
economic justice, and give generously and cheerfully.  As persons dependent on God's
providence, we are not to be anxious about the necessities of life, but
to seek first the kingdom of God.  We
cannot be true servants of God and let our lives be ruled by desire for
We are called to be
stewards in the household of God, set apart for the service of God. We
live out now the rest and justice which God has promised.  The church does this while looking
forward to the coming of our Master and the restoration of all things
in the new heaven and new earth.
(1) Luke 12:35-48; 1 Cor. 4:1-2.
(2) 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Tit. 1:7; 2:5.
(3) 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Eph. 3:1-10.
(4) Ps. 31:15; Eph. 5:15-16; Col. 4:5.
(5) Exod. 20:8-11.
(6) Deut. 5:12-15.
(7) Mark 2:27-28.
(8) Lev. 25:23, 42, 55.
(9) Luke 4:16-21.
(10) Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 2 Cor. 8:1-15.
(11) Ps. 24:1; Gen. 1:26-28.
(12) Phil. 4:11-12; 2 Cor. 8:13-14; James 5:4; 2 Cor. 9:7.
(13) Matt. 6:24-33.
(14) Matt. 11:28-29; Rev. 7:15-17.
1. The word stewardship in the New Testament is used primarily in
connection with stewardship of the gospel. But in the broader sense,
stewardship is related to the idea of God as head of the household, in
which Christians are God's servants or managers or sons and daughters
entrusted with responsibility. First-century households acted as
economic units and often included people not biologically related.
Thus, the term stewardship has come to refer to our responsibility both
for sharing the gospel and for managing time, material things, and
2. Our tradition of
simple living is rooted not in frugality for its own sake, but in
dependence on God, the owner of everything, for our material needs. We
depend on God's gracious gifts for food and clothing, for our
salvation, and for life itself. We do not need to hold on tightly to
money and possessions, but can share what God has given us. The
practice of mutual aid is a part of sharing God's gifts so that no one
in the family of faith will be without the necessities of life. Whether
through community of goods or other forms of financial sharing, mutual
aid continues the practice of Israel in giving special care to widows,
orphans, aliens, and others in economic need (Deut. 24:17-22). Tithes
and first-fruit offerings were also a part of this economic sharing
(Deut. 26; compare Matt. 23:23).
3. Economic justice is an
integral part of the Sabbath cycle. The Sabbath year, like the Sabbath
day, brought rest and freedom for the land and for laborers. The
seven-times-seventh year or the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee,
also brought justice and mercy by the return of family land, release of
debts, and freedom for bound laborers (Lev. 25). The effect of the
Sabbath-Jubilee laws was a return to relative economic equality every
fifty years. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt. 6:12). In the age to come,
the saints will have the economic necessities (Rev. 7:15-17). We are to
seek first the reign of God and to cease from consumerism, unchecked
competition, overburdened productivity, greed, and possessiveness.
4. Not only was the
Sabbath observed in Old Testament times; there is evidence that the
sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee were also observed. Jubilee law
appears in Leviticus 25; Leviticus 27:16-25; and Numbers 36:4. Other
references to sabbatical or Jubilee years occur in Deuteronomy 31:10; 2
Chronicles 36:21; Isaiah 37:30; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 34:8-22; and Ezekiel
46:17. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus refers to a time
when the Jews in Palestine went hungry because of a sabbatical or
Jubilee year, when the land lay fallow. The Roman government exempted
Judea from tribute during the seventh year. The practice of the
Jerusalem church and the continued financial sharing of Christian
congregations is evidence that the economic aspects of Jubilee
continued to be practiced and adapted to urban settings.
5. The theology of
stewardship makes us aware not only of care for human beings, but of
care for the rest of creation. Animals and fields benefited from the
Sabbath and the sabbatical year. An observance of Sabbath-Jubilee calls
us to take care of and preserve the earth. We are to commit ourselves
to right use of the earth's resources as a way of living now according
to the model of the new heaven and the new earth.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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