“God created us to love people and use things, but materialists love things and use people.” Randy Alcorn
Consider these statistics:
- 15% of Christ’s recorded words deal with money
- 66% of his parables deal with riches and possessions
- In the gospels, 1 in every 10 verses addresses a financial issue
- In the Bible as a whole, financial matters are covered in 2,350 verses (more than the topics of faith and love combined!)
It’s been said that the greatest antidote to materialism is generosity. We combat greed, anxious toil, and our obsessive desire for more by giving to those in need and investing our lives and resources in that which will last forever. In order to be more confident about how God desires us to use our resources specifically, we will first examine four foundational stewardship principles taught throughout God’s Word.
1. The Principle of Ownership
As we learned in the last post, God the Father has absolute rights of ownership over all things. To miss starting here is like misaligning the top button on our shirt or blouse—nothing else will ever line up.
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things” 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
Perhaps you need to go to the Lord and simply acknowledge His ownership over each of area of your life. It’s wonderfully freeing to be anchored in the truth that you are not your own, but were bought with the blood of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2. The Principle of Responsibility
Have you ever been shown radical generosity from someone? Imagine a friend invites you and your family to stay several weeks in his spacious, perfectly decorated, and immaculately clean Hawaiian villa. You are blown away by your friend’s love and generosity. When it comes time to check out, will you seek to leave the place as you found it? Because of his amazing grace, might you even leave it better than you found it?
The principle of responsibly means we feel the weight of God’s generosity, and respond with thoughtful care, development, and pure enjoyment of the many gifts He’s allowed us to manage.
“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.” Romans 14:12
3. The Principle of Accountability
“…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Luke 12:48b
There is a powerful maxim taught in the Parable of the Talents showing us that God is not pleased with us ruling over creation in whatever way we see fit. This parable will be considered more deeply in the next post, but Jesus shares this story to illustrate that we are called to carry out our various life-stewardships under the watchful eye of our Creator, managing what He’s given in accordance with His will and values. We will ultimately give an account to Him for our entires lives, including our money, abilities, time, relationships, jobs, authority, information, and wisdom.
4. The Principle of Reward
As we mentioned last week if you are IN CHRIST then you have a right standing with God. Your sins are forgiven and you have new life based solely upon your faith in Jesus Christ. You can do nothing to earn God’s favor, so when the Bible speaks of “rewards” it has nothing to do with meriting his acceptance or favor. It does, however, have much to do with how we handle the many trials, tests, and assignments God gives us throughout the course of our lives. Consider the Apostle Paul’s words,
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
One thing Jesus and the New Testament writers make abundantly clear is that God loves to bless faithfulness. Faithfulness in small matters opens the door to for us to be entrusted with greater responsibilities. Don’t we all want to live lives blessed by God? Yet we often find ourselves ignoring or resisting God’s promptings to change a particular aspect of our life or character.
We want the blessings without the obedience.
Think about it though: If our finances are disorganized, our relationships a mess, and we are constantly making excuses for why we can’t make changes to our physical health, why do we plead with God to bless us in those same areas?
The truth is that Christians are promised eternal rewards for honoring the Lord and being faithful.
“When we surrender every area of our lives– including our finances–to God, then we are free to trust Him to meet our needs. But if we would rather hold tightly to those things that we possess, then we find ourselves in bondage to those very things.” Larry Burkett
Question 1 Look back over the four principles covered in this post: Ownership, Responsibility, Accountability, and Reward. Which makes most sense to you? Which do you wrestle with for one reason or another?
Question 2 Can you think of examples that illustrate Larry Burkett’s quote? How have you seen this play out either positively or negatively?