“What Is My Relationship to My Stuff?”
By Jay Link, Stewardship Ministries
This is clearly the most foundational question we must answer if we are going to make any progress in our attitudes, perspectives, and decisions in relation to material things—particularly material wealth. If we cannot answer this question with clarity and confidence, we will find ourselves—in spite of our financial successes—underachieving in our lives. If you think of this question as a stool with three legs upon which the answer is balanced, you will be able to better envision the truth about your stuff.
The first “leg” of this stool is the fact that God owns everything because He created everything. King David tells us in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” He goes on to add in Psalm 50:10-12 cev,
The second “leg” of this stool is the fact that not only did God create us, but He also redeemed us from slavery to the prince of this world through the death of His son, Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Titus 2:13b-14, “Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
The final “leg” is the fact that we own nothing. We are called by God to be stewards, carrying out the Owner’s wishes for His property. It is at this point that we need to come to grips with the terribly misused and abused concept of stewardship.
By definition, a steward is “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others, a manager.” So, for us to be “stewards for God,” we must acknowledge that all we are and all we have possession of belongs to Him. We are charged with managing His property according to His wishes.
You can see that stewardship is not at all a synonym for tithing and fundraising; it is actually the opposite. Tithing has to do with what you give; stewardship has to do with what you keep. In other words, it is about how you manage everything that you have been entrusted to oversee. What most people miss is that stewardship is more about how you manage what is left over after you give than it is about what you give.
The radical, biblical concept of stewardship is easy enough to understand intellectually. However, it is anything but easy to consistently apply and live out. So what is your relationship to your stuff? You are not the owner; you are merely the caretaker of somebody else’s property. And it is your job to manage all of it according to the Owner’s wishes. Now, that really changes the game, does it not?
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