Paul says, “All things are yours . . . and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:22). We have all things, because we are united to Christ and Christ with God the Father. But we don’t have ownership. We belong to God and everything we possess belongs to Him. We have an entitlement. We are stewards of the mysteries of God, i.e. the truth that has been revealed in the gospel. A steward is someone who manages a household or estate.

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Cor. 4: 2). The use of our own lives and all that we possess has been entrusted to us and someday we will give an account for how well we have managed the estate. There is no time that is ours and the rest is God’s. There is no portion of money that is ours and the rest belongs to God. It all belongs to Him. He made it all and simply entrusted it to us for His service. It matters not what others think of our stewardship. It doesn’t even matter what we think of ourselves. We can have a clear conscience, but that doesn’t make us innocent. It is the Lord who judges us.

Jesus told a parable about a rich fool. The man produced such a good crop that he had to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. Thinking that he had stored up enough to last for many years, he decided to take it easy; eat, drink and be merry. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then you will get what you have prepared for yourself’” (Luke 12:20). On another occasion, a rich young man asked Jesus how he could have eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The rich man said he had. Then Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The young man walked away because he had great wealth. Jesus showed the rich young man that his righteousness was self-rightness and that his security was in his possessions and not in his eternal relationship with God.

“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). It is not just the results that we are called to be stewards of, but the labor itself. Kingdom stewardship is like the Stradivari society that entrusts these superb violins into the hands of the artists who make great music. God has given us time, talent and treasure, which remain his property but are intended to be used to glorify Him.

Dr. Neil

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