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God Owns it All and We are the Steward of His Resources
The absolute beginning point is an understanding of the truth that God owns it all. Haggai 2:8 records God’s words: “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” In the parable of the talents, Jesus said,” For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them” (Matthew 25:14, emphasis added). Any reading of the Scriptures will lead you to the inescapable conclusion that all resources come from and belong to God.
How many times have you seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? This is one of my favorite illustrations because it makes the point so well. Job said it this way, “Naked came I from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return” (Job 1:21). We come into the world with nothing, and we will leave the world with nothing. Whatever we have to use in the interim belongs to God, whether a little or a lot.
Every spending decision is a spiritual decision
Someone asked John Rockefeller’s accountant if he knew exactly how much Mr. Rockefeller had left when he died. The accountant replied, “Certainly, to the penny. He left everything.” The reality is that we are managing Gods’ resources for some brief period of time.
This is our definition of stewardship: “The use of God –given resources for the accomplishment of God- given goals.” The implication of this definition is that a steward is a manager, not an owner. An owner has all the rights; a steward has only responsibilities.
Probably the best illustration of the difference between an owner and a steward is the distinction between the depositor in a bank and the banker. The depositor has the “right” to do with his money what he wants, and the banker has the stewardship responsibility of handling these resources because they belong to the depositors, not to the banker himself.
Truly believing that God owns it all has three implications.
First, He can take whatever He wants.
Second, every spending decision is a spiritual decision.
Third, stewardship cannot be faked.
God Can Take What He Wants
If God can take whatever He wants whenever He wants, you should hold all resources with an open hand. God puts into your hand whatever He chooses to entrust you with, and He has the right to take out that hand whatever He desires. When He takes anything out, you, as a steward and manager of His resources, should feel no regrets because those resources belong to Him. You should heed the wisdom of these words: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
We have been asked, “How much is enough?” many times; and we believe that it relates to the openhand principle. When you close your hand and say, “God, You no longer have the right to take your resources,” you have crossed the line from stewardship (responsibilities) into ownership (rights). Only God is the true owner.
If your heart attitude is one that believes God can take whatever He wants it, your fear of economic uncertainty is removed. If there is an economic collapse of some sort and God destroys the economic system, you can cope because you recognize that resources are God’s and He is choosing to use them in a different way.
People who told the ownership rights of their resources have great fear of an economic disaster. It could be a personal disaster, with all personal assets lost, or a national economic collapse, which affects everyone in the country. In either case, those who “own” their lives children, and possessions will be devastated. True stewards may be shaken, but not destroyed, because they know God is at work.
Additionally, believing that God can take whatever He wants whenever he wants will give your decision making its proper perspective. You will make your decisions as steward. Knowing they are God’s resources will give you a long-term perspective in decision making and cause you to use spiritual priorities in making financial decisions. The question to ask yourself is this: How does God want me to use these resources? Considering this question will remind you that you are not managing your own resources.
Spending Decisions Equal Spiritual Decisions
The second implication of believing that God owns it all is that every spending decision is a spiritual decision. In other words, there is nothing more spiritual about tithing than paying for a vacation. Why? Because tithing is the use of God’s resources to accomplish God’s purposes. We are not saying, “ Don’t tithe.” Just consider what is the real goal of God’s plans and purposes for your life and the lives of your family members. It may be to build family unity, and a vacation is a way to build that unity.
Stewardship Cannot Be Faked
The third implication of believing that God owns it all is that stewardship cannot be faked. Your checkbook tells how you chose to use God’s resources. Your checkbook reveals priorities in your life. It reveals facts such as how you manage your time, what size family you have, where you live, how much debt you have, how much you are allocating to savings and investments, how you dress, and so on.
Every other area, except the financial one, of the Christian life can be faked. A person need only be a Christian for a short time know how to pray, how to witness, where to go to church, or how to study the Bible. These can be done without revealing the person’s real motive.
Your checkbook reveals the priorities of your life
However; the checkbook reveals one’s actual commitment to the use of God’s resources to accomplish God’s purposes. I sometimes wonder if, when we get to heaven, all our check registers will have preceded us. If so then we can spend time in eternity reviewing how we used or abused His resources.
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