Last week we looked at the principle of God’s ownership and what that means for our lives. In summary we learnt that we need to have an open hand attitude towards our possessions because they belong to God. And just in case some people thought that hard work entitled them to ownership of their possessions, we were reminded that God even gives us the ability to earn an income. In light of this truth how are we to view ourselves and specifically our possessions?
PRINCIPLE #2: WE ARE GOD’S ASSET MANAGERS
John D. Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. After he died, someone asked his accountant, “How much money did John D. leave?” His reply was classic: “He left . . . all of it.” One of the most powerful parables that Jesus taught concerning our relationship to our possessions can be found in Luke 12:16-21, “And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Jesus taught this parable to remind us that our life is not about how many “toys” we gain in this life. This rich man lived with an earthly-focused, immediate-satisfying, self-pleasing view of his assets. And the reason why? He believed that they were his! Notice the repeated uses of the pronoun “my” to refer to “his” assets. Jesus described this man as a fool! And we shouldn’t expect a different response from the Lord if we continue to view our assets the same way.
The Apostle Paul viewed himself as a servant and a steward of God (1 Corinthians 4:1). What is a steward? I like the simple definition that Randy Alcorn provides. A steward is “someone an owner entrusts with the management of his assets.” The second principle that is closely related to God’s ownership, but must not be confused with it, is the principle of stewardship. God has generously entrusted us with the management of His assets for a brief period of time. Paul identifies the purpose of a steward “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). God expects us to be faithful managers of His assets then! Luke 16:10-12 seems to suggest that we will be tested by the Lord to determine whether or not we are faithful stewards “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”
Before he died missionary martyr Jim Elliot made a remarkable statement which I believe speaks into the heart of how we must view of possessions “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” In concluding, how we view ourselves and our possessions matters to the Lord. He has afforded us the opportunity to manage His assets. What a wonderful privilege! We can choose to live like the foolish rich man who selfishly horded “his” assets or we can live wisely by faithfully managing God’s assets here on earth. If we choose the latter, then we will surely gain what we cannot lose in the end.