there are a number of descriptive titles for followers of christ in the bible. actually, there are over 150 different ways believers are referred to.
disciple…alien…saint…beloved…brother and sister…chosen ones…ambassador…salt…and one of my particular favorites: scum. (we’ll come back to that one someday, i promise!)
in luke, jesus refers to his followers in a story where he says that only faithful stewards will be prepared for his return.
And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. Luke 12:42-44 NAS
in some of the more modern translations of the bible, the word for steward is translated manager or caretaker. the fundamental principle of life for the follower of christ that we own nothing…we are simply managers of what belongs to god. check out these passages:
You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17-18
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. Psalm 24:1
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2
the reality? we don’t bring anything to the table. it’s all god’s. all of it. all of that stuff you say you’ve worked hard for and you deserve and you don’t want want anybody to mess with? it’s not yours. it’s god’s and you’re just taking care of it for him.
so how are you doing on that one? yeah, that’s what i thought. me too.
since god really does hold all the ownership rights…and since we only have what we’ve been allowed to have, then our role with what we have ought to look a little (maybe a lot) different than what it does. god has entrusted us with a lot. our talents. our gifts. our abilities. our time. our resources. even our money.
and all of it belongs to him! we will never get this “following jesus” down right, until we bury this basic truth deep in our hearts. it will never effect the way we live, until we truly believe it. all of what i have is his and i am responsible to manage it for him and his purposes, not mine…for his design and desires, not mine.
he’s the owner. i’m the steward. he’s the king. i’m the caretaker. am i missing anything?
every decision we make…whether it’s about our time or our money…is a decision of stewardship. every decision is a kingdom decision. there are no entirely “personal” decisions, because in every decision i make, i’m playing with house money…money that doesn’t belong to me. how dare i play with it frivolously?
how dare i make decisions with my time and money that look simply to my own desires and my own best interests?
“but i’m taking good care of the money god has given me. i’m making wise investments. i’m buying important stuff. i’m taking care of my family. i’m turning a profit. i’m being successful and responsible with everything god has given to me.”
“i even give god a good thank-you tip on sundays. i even give him back a little…for his church stuff, you know…out of the abundance he’s given to me.”
sorry, friends. if that’s the mentality, it’s missing the point. we are not given the responsibility to decide how much to “give back to god”. we are given the responsibility to use everything…i mean everything… for his purposes, for his glory, for what he’s all about.
the hard decision should not be how much we are going to “give back”. it should be how much of his stuff…the stuff i’m supposed to be taking care of…i’m going to squander on my own pleasure, to the neglect of what we are to be doing with it in the first place.
look. i don’t think god is against us spending some of his money on our own fun…our own enjoyment…our own security…our own comfort. he even said it:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17
but enough is enough. we better be about the master’s business when he comes back.
so start using his money accordingly.