Summary: One perspective we must adjust in our lives as Jesus’s disciples is that we don’t own anything. God owns it all, and He entrusts His things to you. How do you manage God’s resources and blessings?
In my last post, I taught about being a citizen of two realms, the natural realm and the spiritual realm. In this post, we discuss what we own and what God entrusts to us.
Everyone likes that new car smell. We like to have new things and good things. There’s nothing wrong with going shopping, buying something, and taking it home and calling it your own. People own houses, land, and any number of things. Or at least, we think we do.
The Bible doesn’t teach that you own anything. It says we brought nothing into this world and we take nothing out of it (). You don’t even own your own body (). Yet, we are deceived by thinking we own everything we have bought or had given to us. This post is about teaching us how to think biblically and have the Christian perspective that we don’t own our stuff. Let’s get started.
They Say You Own Things
One deception of our world today is that we own everything we have. A popular slogan is, “My body, my choice.” We think if we buy something we own it. People used to own other people as slaves. We like that word, ownership. It makes us feel special, like we really do have things that belong to us.
Some might consider product personhood owning things. It’s nice to have things that belong to us and not to anyone else. A country and culture is built on ownership. We have all kinds of ways of deciding is something belongs to someone. That’s the world we live in.
In fact, we become so deceived with this idea of ownership that we begin to think we own things we don’t own, or we should have things we don’t have. Entitlement is a big deal in the United States. People think you are entitled to an education, although that’s not in the American Constitution. Others think everyone is entitled to $15 an hour no matter how basic the job is.
Some people on welfare think that since they get money from the government, don’t have a job, and don’t want one, that they should be entitled to other things the government should supply them with. But the Bible doesn’t teach that at all. It actually says, “he who doesn’t work doesn’t eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Entitlement is not what God intended from the beginning. Even Adam had work to do in the garden before the fall.
Many believe the government gives people things. They think that Americans have rights even listed in the Constitution because the government gives them. But the Constitution says that God gives the rights it mentions. We really have a messed up culture of ownership. As disciples of Jesus, we need to avoid the deception we see around us and understand how the Bible talks about everything around us.
You Don’t Own Anything
Especially Christians need to realize ownership and entitlement are not the truth. The deception that we own anything is alive from the enemy. You don’t own anything. I know at first glance you are thinking, “Then why did I have to pay for it.” That’s how the world system works, but it’s not what the Bible says.
I know we often balk at the idea that we don’t own anything, but let me approach it a different way for you. You don’t own it, so you don’t have to worry about it getting broken. Further down this teaching we will clarify that, but for now think about how nice that is. Nobody can steal it from you if you don’t own it.
Get comfortable with that fact. Think about how things decay over time, how they depreciate in value, and how you always have to update them. Stuff wears out. Then you have to get more stuff or replace that stuff. We are tied to stuff too much anyway. For me, it’s freeing to thank that the staff I think I have I don’t really have.
Maybe it’s still an uncomfortable thought for you to think of. That’s okay. Some of these Christian perspectives take time for us to get away from worldly perspectives into what God wants us to understand and practice. Although it takes time, you need to retrain your brain to think the way God thinks and to accept the biblical perspectives you need to practice as a disciple of Jesus.
God Owns It All
Contrary to worldly belief, the Bible tells us God owns everything. And rightly so, for He is the one who created it all (Genesis 1:1). By virtue of being the Creator, God is sovereign over His creation and can do with it what He pleases. The Bible says everything in the world belongs to God (Psalm 24:1).
The Bible colorfully says that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). How often we forget this great truth. Nothing we “own” is ours. God entrusts it to us to manage. Jesus gives several parables about managers and stewards. The lessons He gives are clear that we do not own what we have.
We are God’s servants, and we have a duty to do well with God’s possessions entrusted to us for our care. If we think we own God’s things, we will manage them according to our own desires. But when we realize they belong to God, we have an even higher calling to do well with managing His things.
Since I was a child, my parents taught me to treat other people’s possessions I borrow or am given for a time better than my own things. In fact, the principal they taught me was to give it back to the person better than I received it. That same principle should be our aim with all of God’s things. From the way we treat the earth to how we treat others, God should be pleased with how we address all His possessions.
Bearing God’s Image
One of the most discussed passages in the Bible happens when God says He will make humans in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). There are many theories as to what the image of God is. But one of the clearest contextual answers to this age-old question is that there in God’s image means God has entrusted His things to us for our management.
That is one interpretation of “subduing and having dominion over the earth” is that we take God’s place on earth, being like God in the way we manage what God has. It’s like we are his vice regents over His creation. So, to bear God’s image is to be like Him over the earth. The way we treat it either reveals God’s character in us or shows how much we miss treat His possessions.
God expects us to do well with His things. He entrusts them to us, trusting us to do what He wants with them. We can go one of two ways, but we rarely are balanced in our approach of management. Keeping the earth as an example, some people go so far as to call it Mother Earth, and want to not do anything to it at all. They worry about things like climate change and are afraid to disturb any ecosystem.
Other people say things like, “Because this earth is passing away, will burn up like fire, and God is creating a new heavens and new earth, we don’t have to care what happens to the earth. We can do whatever we want to it.” Both extremes ignore our place as God’s image bearers. God created Earth and everything in it with great care and after creating parts of it said, “It is good.”
What we do with His property matters to Him. He doesn’t want us to abuse it and take advantage of it. But He doesn’t want us to be so careful about it that we don’t use it as a resource He has provided for us. When God formed each part of the earth in the first three days of creation, He then filled it with living created things. We must enjoy our environment and use its resources without abusing it. There is a middle ground between the extremes.
You Are a Steward
As God’s image bearer, you are responsible to manage what God entrusts to you. Just like you manage what you have, you must consider what you have to be dedicated to God. Dedicate your time, your finances, your talents and gifts, and everything else God has given you. Make Jesus your priority in all you do.
In the parable of the dishonest manager (Luke 16:1-13), Jesus teaches that we must be good managers of what God has given us. He says we must be faithful in the little things for God to entrust true riches to us. Another parable, the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), highlights being good stewards of what God gives us.
The master doubled what the one who managed so well had. The one who managed most poorly, the master took the one talent he had and gave it to the one with ten. It is clear God expects us to manage whatever we have for His glory. This is not about owning our stuff. It’s about glorifying God with His possessions He entrusts to us.
Well Done, My Good and Faithful Servant
How are you managing all the resources God has entrusted to you? Would Jesus be pleased with your prioritizing of His things? It’s not just about things either. Parents must raise their children in the fear of the Lord. They mold their children according to their personalities, likes, and abilities for God’s glory.
There’s so much we must think about as good stewards of God’s blessings. How are we advancing in Christian maturity? You must use the gifts the Spirit has given you to encourage and help the body of Christ.
This is a responsibility we can learn to enjoy. Usually duty is not thought of as fun. But when you learn to manage God’s resources with excellence, you will experience more and more of His blessings. When you get to heaven, will Jesus say to you, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?”
Manage God’s resources and blessings He entrusts to you with excellence. Make Jesus proud of you in the way you bear His image and steward His things wisely.
Now that we have established God owns everything and you are a steward He entrusts His possessions to you, we will next look at the Christian perspective of selfishness versus selflessness.