Generally speaking, there are two ways to see our life and possessions. One is through the perspective of ownership, whereby I and my life and possessions belong to me alone. The other is through the perspective of stewardship, whereby I and my life and possessions belong to God and are to be invested for His purposes.
In Titus 1:7, Paul speaks of leaders serving as “God’s steward” of the church. Similarly, 1 Peter 4:10 commands every Christian to be “good stewards of God’s varied grace.” A steward sees God as the Owner of our life and everything in it, and ourselves as the manager commissioned by the Owner. In our life, we have lots of stewards – people we trust to manage our finances, pay our taxes, our distribute our estate after our death. Just as we would be frustrated with a bank that decided to do things with our money that we did not approve, God is bothered when what He owns is not managed as He desires.
Four traits distinguish a steward:
- I belong to the Lord. This is exactly what Paul says reminding Christians that we “belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6).
- Everything I have belongs to the Lord. The Bible recognizes private property ownership, which explains why it forbids stealing. Above all, the Bible teaches that God alone is the ultimate owner of everything, because it comes from Him and is ruled over by Him. God’s ownership includes all wealth: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). God’s ownership extends to the natural resources we cultivate for wealth, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). Even the abilities we use to earn a living are gifted to us by God and are to be humbly used, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).
- Everything I have is a gift from the Lord. Paul says, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Corinthians 4:7)? And just in case anything has been overlooked, Jesus’ brother reminds us, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:16-17).
- I want to manage God’s resources wisely. Since God is the owner, and I am the manager, I want to steward God’s resources in the way that God wants. Practically, this means the air we breathe, the food we eat, money we make, words we speak, days we live, and everything else is a gracious gift from our loving God for us to manage, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Practically, stewards have a very distinct mentality. Rather than wondering how they should spend their time, talent, and treasure, they ask how they should invest God’s time, talent, and treasure. This means, as an example, that rather than asking why they should give their money to God or wondering how much of their money they should give to God, they instead prayerfully consider how much of God’s money He wants them to keep as well as what He wants done with that portion not used for bills and such.
In 2022, did your decisions reflect more of a mindset that you were the owner, or that God was the owner and you were the manager of every aspect of your life?
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