It’s yours to share. Authentic Stewardship, Part 1.

Four Relationships - Gospel Shaped View

1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.  Psalm 24:1-6

The Stuff of Earth and Conflict
The piercing cries of pain and dismay where the first sign that something was wrong. Then the kids came spilling around the corner into the kitchen. “He won’t share.” “She is grabbing.” “I want a turn.” “It’s mine.”

“It’s yours to share.”

How do you teach children to share or to respect the boundaries of another person without simultaneously crushing their spirit and sense of personal responsibility? My wife and I landed on these words. “It’s yours to share.” This simple phrase opened up the conversation with our children when they ran into the conflict of sharing and wanting. They were empowered to decide with a Gospel-shaped axiom and without our dictatorial intervention. Sometimes it worked!

Authentic stewardship must not ultimately be concerned with rights. The concern for the follower of Jesus is a matter of “to whom does it all belong?”

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therein.”  Psalm 24:1

It all belongs to God.
Christian stewardship casts the stuff of earth into the realm of responsibility: It all belongs to God; We are stewards. The Cross brings us forward into a redemptive work and enjoyment: The Father above has given all good things; we can enjoy and care for others in the distribution of these gifts. But, when it comes to the stuff of earth our sense of security and status have become snared in the thorns and thistles of identity; It too a Saviour on the Cross with a crown of thorns to bring freedom to our hearts.

A blessing for the generation that seeks the God of Jacob.
Jacob (Genesis 25 -33) was blessed with the stuff of earth, rights, and responsibilities. But his maturity lagged behind his accumulation of power. I believe its important that we smile with knowing amazement at the grace of God when the Scripture references the “God of Jacob.” (Psalm 24:6) Don’t just glide past those words.

Jacob the trickster finally become a mature person moving beyond the anxiety that controlled him and his relationships. He eventually became less motivated by an obsession to secure his life and stuff through manuevering and manipulations. It took a vision of heaven. It took being tricked by a trickster as conniving as him. It took a looming crisis of confrontation with his brother. It took a night of wrestling with God! It took time and struggle! But God, God was graceful toward him.

Discipleship and the Stuff of Earth
Authentic Stewardship has to answer the question of WHO? All this is from God. God has ultimate right and authority for it all. The stuff of earth—air, water, land, resources, wealth, wisdom, knowledge and the technology developed from it—is not mine first. It’s God’s. A Gospel-shaped vision of you and me and the stuff of earth will embrace the discipleship journey of learning to be a faithful steward who honours God and people in the way we handle what has been entrusted to us.

Summary thought: your church’s discipleship culture must engage leaders, parents, and employers in a thoughtful obedience to Jesus that includes both the stewardship of people as image-bearers of the Creator and the stuff of earth as that which is ultimately His.  For a time He has seen fit to gift you: It’s yours… to share.

How Greed Works

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19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:19-24

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus lays out a vision for how His Kingdom can transform the lives of His disciples. He keeps our relationship with the stuff of earth connected to knowing the Heavenly Father. Jesus knows greed for more and anxiety because of scarcity hinder our experience of His love and our involvement in His mission.

Greed can take over our lives. He shows us three kinds of power at work in greed. I’m going to call them principles.

The treasure principle: “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” If you treasure money, then the affections of your heart and your best energy for life will go there.

The eye-health principle: “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” The perspectives through which your see the world will affect your whole life. So, if you are seeing the world through the faulty lens of greed, you are going to damage your life and those around you.

The master principle: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” We thought we could be the master of our money or our wealth. But here’s what Jesus knows: money / wealth / the stuff of earth competes for the allegiance we only to the Giver of all good things. (Rich Mullins wrote this truth into a song) Jesus’ conclusion: You cannot serve both God and money. And money makes a terrible master.

So what are we to do?

We must establish God as master of our lives and our stuff. That will lead us to explore with Him, what the purpose of such stuff and our work is in His Kingdom. And we will begin to ask daily, “Jesus, what would you have me do with the stuff of earth entrusted me?