We Are Stewards of God’s Possessions
In this column, we’ve affirmed that God created all things and that he continues to own and care for all he created. One result of that is that we don’t truly own anything; we are merely caretakers or stewards of what are ultimately God’s possessions. We have this responsibility and privilege for a short time; then those possessions will pass (one way or another) into someone else’s care for a while.
In the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21), Jesus tells the story of a man who had more than enough – so much that he did not have room to store it all. Rather than give some away to the poor, he decided to build bigger barns to hold the excess. Then he would take life easy, because he had all he needed (rather than continuing to work and providing for others). But God let him know that his time on earth was up.
This man did not see himself as a steward of God’s possessions; rather, he saw himself as the owner. As a result, it did not matter to him that God had blessed him in order to bless others through him; he saw his riches as solely the result of his own work and as solely for his own benefit. He did not consider that life here is brief.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells three parables showing various facets of his return and the consummation of the Kingdom of Heaven. The second of these three parables tells the story of a man going on a long journey (Matthew 25:14-30). Before departing, he entrusts varying amounts of money to three of his servants, based on their abilities. Two of the servants act as wise stewards, working with the money and investing it so as to bring returns for their master. The third servant wants nothing to do with stewardship, and merely buries the money and then returns it. On his return, the master commends the two servants who acted as faithful stewards and condemns the servant who did not.
Taken together, these two parables illustrate two aspects of God’s ownership and our stewardship:
- God’s ownership is permanent, while our stewardship is temporary
- As the owner, God expects and deserves faithful stewardship from his servants, and faithful stewardship will receive a reward at Jesus’ return.
So stewardship is more than just recognizing God’s ownership. It’s more than avoiding conspicuous consumerism (though it includes that). It’s being faithful with the resources he has provided – faithful to bless others and to honor him. Faithful to multiply those resources for God’s use.