Monday, October 13, 2008

It's All His Anyway

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours
the world and all its fullness,
You have founded them.
The north and the south, You have created them.
Ps 89-11-12

People argue over whether a child’s first words will be mama or dada but I am convinced that is usually “mine”. As we grow up, that four letter word can become one of the major obsessions of our lives. We work hard almost all of our lives so that we can own things: an ipod, a car, a house… Owning stuff can often turn out to be the way that we keep score in our lives.

We claim ownership of homes and cars even if we are still making payments. Sometimes we joke about the bank owning the car or house but the jokes betray the notion we have that after the loan is paid off we will own our home, free and clear. Of course once we have clear title we can do whatever we wish on our property (as long as it doesn’t violate code) and live on it as long as we want (as long as we pay our taxes). No one can drive us away (unless the government claims eminent domain because they want to put a highway through our house.)

The government has a claim on our property but so does God. We are not owners, we are managers. What we do with our stuff matters to God. Jesus told several stories about managers, here’s one:

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ’My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. Luke 12:42-46:

A good manager is a servant of the boss and does what is best for their boss. When I was a bivocational pastor, I managed a McDonalds. The owner paid me a salary and provided benefits. He deserved my best efforts at taking care of the building and equipment in my care, protecting his reputation and carrying out my mission to make him a profit. Can I do any less with the life and possessions entrusted to me by God?

God owns it all. Not just the 10% we give back but the 90% (or more) we keep. What we do with the stuff with which God has blessed us (how we invest it, how we spend it, etc.) is done on God’s behalf. Are you honoring God with your choices?

Hoarding stuff (we might need it some day) can be a denial that God can provide for our needs. Is there really security in owning more shoes than you can wear? Do you need every item in your house?

There was a missionary who would periodically lay out all his possessions (he did not have many). Whatever he had not used in a year would be given away. He believed if he did not need it he was depriving someone else. We acknowledge God’s goodness and providence when we hold on to things lightly. God is generous to us; we ought to be generous as well. We ought to dedicate our homes, our cars, our finances, our very lives to Him. After all, it’s all His anyway.

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