This is part three of an ongoing “series” on Stewardship. In this post, we will look at how relationships are a part of stewardship:
We must be very clear and blunt on this point: The steward is not the owner.
Consider the words of Hymn 781 “We Give Thee But Thine Own.” This hymn was a part of the Divine Service in previous hymnal editions and is presented as a stand-alone hymn in the Lutheran Service Book:
We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.
This is a confession; a creed of stewardship. This creed rightly identifies the relationship of “owner” and “steward.” Understanding those relationships helps us to properly frame our stewardship. God is the owner and we the steward. One has full rights and benefits; the other has a legal obligation. Stop and think about that for a moment: How many times do we “demand” of God as if He has an obligation to us? This sinful view is simply a remaining vestige from the sin of rebellion in Genesis chapter three.
Our relationship to possessions is about ownership no longer. Instead, those relationships are about stewardship. Consider the toddler: everything is “his!” The desire to hoard and claim ownership grows out of an immaturity that can last in various stages throughout our lives. We smile at the child who yells, “MINE!” (Unless it is “OUR” child… then we are horrified!) And yet how often do we do the same thing? That new car is MINE! The house is MINE! That precious piece of art is MINE! Perhaps we do not vocally imitate the toddler, but our actions can betray us.
Stewardship must be learned. It must be taught because our sinful nature defaults to the claim of ownership. To refer to possessions as “that which God has entrusted to me” is a difficult task and requires a great deal of practice.
Take time to practice this month. Ask, how am I taking care of the house that God has entrusted to me? How am I taking care of the car God has entrusted to me? How am I taking care of the children God has entrusted to me?