Stewardship vs. Generosity

26 Jun

I am currently preaching through the Gospel of Mark. In the fall, we will come to the story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44). I planned to use the passage as the beginning of a five-week series on stewardship.

Like most churches, First Central Baptist Church tends not to talk about money at all, unless we are running behind in budget, and then we only remind people of the need to give. And like most churches, we tend to run behind in budget.

While on vacation, I started reading Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels. In one article, he made a passing comment about teaching a series on generosity. It started me thinking about the contrast between stewardship and generosity. I put together the following chart of my initial thoughts to compare and contrast the two. I’m sure I will add to it and change it as time goes on.





God has entrusted us with his possessions

God has blessed us so that we can bless others


1 Corinthians 4:2

2 Corinthians 8:2



Channels of blessing

Attitude Duty





There’s only so much to go around; once it’s gone, it’s gone

There’s plenty to go around;

if we are generous, God will bless us with even more


Fear of punishment

Desire for praise




How can I manage what God has given me?

How can I express my thanks to God by blessing other people?

How can I make it last as long as possible?

How can I make it go as far as possible?

How much do I HAVE to give?

How much CAN I give?

How much can I keep for myself?

How much can I give away?


Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

  • Master entrusted servants with his property; each according to ability
  • They were to use the master’s resources for his benefit
  • The master would hold them accountable for what they did
  • 2 servants invested everything and received praise
  • 1 servant protected the resources out of fear and lost everything
  • Stewardship is measured not by results, but by whether or not you are faithful with what you have been given

Widow’s offering

(Mark 12:41-44)

  • Most people give a portion from their abundance
  • Widow gave everything out of her poverty
  • Generosity is determined not by the amount, but by how much you give when you have little or nothing

Bottom line

Scripture teaches both stewardship and generosity.

We should manage God’s resources in order to bless others through generosity

At this point, my feeling is that we have overemphasized the responsibility of stewardship and underemphasized the privilege of giving. (I know that I have.) We have bought into a scarcity mentality rather than an abundance mentality. As I look towards the series in the fall, rather than teach principles of stewardship, what I want to promote is an attitude and lifestyle of generosity. So I will be retitling the fall series.


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