Dear Radio Friends,
The child of God in this world, whether he lives in western Michigan with four children and is now laid off, or whether he lives in Valor, India and is thankful for a hand mill to grind rice and lives on a mat, this child of God in either place lives in one faith: My Father knows what I have need of.
As God rained manna from heaven upon Israel for forty years, feeding two million people a day at a time, so also God has promised to grant to each of His children needs sufficient for the day. The children of Israel had to go out and pick it up. The Lord did not put it in their cupboard or in their backpack. The Lord called them to go and gather the manna. He gave them enough for that day. He relieved all of their wants. Trusting in Jehovah for our daily needs, we are free from anxiety. This is the antidote to our often murmuring and complaining concerning earthly things.
But we do ask, Why does not the Lord stockpile the earthly things for us? Why does He not lay it all out? Why does He not show us that by the year 2015 we will have the following assets? Why must it be day-by-day? And the response of the Scriptures is that we must learn to trust. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He is Jehovah-nissi, the Lord who will provide.
We are then to look toward the earthly things this way. We are to look first at the cross. We look not at the job market or at Wall Street. But we look at the infinite grace and the full pardon that is given to us in Jesus Christ. We remember the words of Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son…shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” God will give me what I need to serve Him. And if I no longer, in His will, am called to serve Him on earth, then He will take me to heaven.
And so, we look at what God gives us today and we thank God and we trust Him to supply our needs.
Today we look at the question, “But exactly how are we to view and use the money and the things that God gives to us?” And then we come before another principle of the Word of God. That principle is that God is the sole owner of all things, and we are His answerable stewards. For His name is not only Jehovah-nissi, the Lord who will provide, but His name is Adonai; His name is Jehovah-Sabaoth. He is the Lord of hosts. He gives all things to us with a purpose: that we might use them to enjoy, serve, and glorify Him. We say, “My finances are a personal subject. I don’t ask you to run my finances.” But God governs every part of our life: marriage, sex, care of the body, your heart, and what is in your heart, anger, and greed. God governs and God controls everything. Your money as well. And always God calls us to be conformed not to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may live to the glory of God.
We, then, are called to be stewards of all things that God gives us, ready always to answer to Him.
We find this truth in Luke 16:2, where the Lord spoke the parable of “The Unjust Steward.” Here a master had learned that his steward had wasted his goods. We read in verse 2 of Luke 16: “And he called him [that is, his steward], and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee?
Give an account of thy stewardship.” Give an account of your stewardship. The first thing we must see in those words is that God, indeed, is the sovereign owner and dispenser of all things. The demand of the rich man to his steward was, “What is this that I hear of you? You have been accused of wasting my goods.” God is the owner of all things. He is the sovereign owner. What does that mean? Well, the word “sovereign” is a word that we cherish. It means that God is the King. We confess from the Scriptures that God is sovereign in our salvation. From the very beginning to the very end, says Jonah from the belly of the whale (Jonah 2:9), salvation is of the Lord. Our salvation began of the Lord in eternity, in His free grace of election. Romans 9:16, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
God’s sovereignty in salvation continued in His actual giving of Jesus Christ and sending Him into the world to make a payment for all of our sins. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep given to me of the Father.” God’s sovereignty in our salvation proceeds to His calling us to Jesus Christ by His irresistible grace, “All that the Father gives to me,” Jesus says, “shall come to me” (John 6:37). God, then, is sovereign in salvation. He gives it and He controls it absolutely.
Now we must transfer that truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation to the world of money and things. We must not simply say, “The Lord is the sovereign of my soul.” But we must go on to say, “The Lord is the sovereign of my hands and of my goods and of everything He puts in my hands.” He is sovereign of money, of things, cars, banks, health, everything. He is the owner of all. All that we have is God’s legitimate possession. He holds the title to the land, to the home, and to the goods—to everything. He does so because He created them (Gen. 1:1): “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
There is no verse in all of the Bible that says that God signed over any part of what He had created to man. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:45, concerning the great source of human life, “He maketh his sun to rise on…the just and on the unjust.” Jesus did not say, “God maketh the sun to rise,” but He said “He makes his sun.” God owns the sun in the heavens. Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saiththe LORD.”
I can remember that, as a child, my hands would be slapped when I reached to take for myself what was not mine, what belonged to my sister or brother. So also in this economic downturn, we who have begun to imagine that these things are ours and have reached, over-reached, over-extended—God has slapped our hands. He is reminding us that everything that we have comes with the stamp of God’s ownership.
This must be the deep conviction of our hearts. Not simply a mental knowledge, not a grudging confession, but a joyful celebration. We read in Psalm 24:1, 2, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulnessthereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” Joyfully the psalmist confesses that the earth is the Lord’s. The fullness of the earth is the Lord’s, because He is the One who founded it, placed it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.
What do you think about your money? About things? About your body? How do you think about those things as a young person? Do you believe that they are yours? Do you say, “Mine”? Do you simply say, “There’s more of that where it came from”? What do we think about the pay-raise? Do we think instinctively of that coming to us as ours? I would suggest that we all take what represents our assets: the bonds, the IRAs, the bank accounts, the silver and the gold coins, everything that represents value—that we take all of these things and put them on the kitchen table, put them all in a manila envelope and with a black marker write on the envelope: “God’s possession.” And then we must do that with joy and celebration, not with resentment; for if we do it with covetousness, then we confess that there is an idol in our hearts. God has given us all things, but they are not our own.
God, then, is not only the sovereign owner of all things, but He is also the dispenser of all things. He giveth to all what they have, says the psalmist in Psalm 104. He uses means. He uses inheritance, purchase, different economies, and governments. But, nevertheless, it is the Lord who sovereignly dispenses His goods. We read in the book of Proverbs (22:2), “The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.” The rich and the poor, God makes them. A man becomes rich. He invested at the right time in Microsoft, Facebook, or Google. We say, “Oh, he was in the right place at the right time.” Another man works. He is diligent, he is careful, he works long hours. But the storm and the wind come and destroy all that he has made. He sees his stocks and all of his investments go sour. God rules over all these things. The rich and the poor, says the proverb, meet together. They interact. They bump into each other. An economy is made. There is supply and demand. There is economic stimulus. But the Lord is the One who sovereignly controls all things and gives to each even as it pleases Him. I Samuel 2:7, “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” What do you have, then, that is not given to you?
Here is the principle: God is the sovereign owner and the sovereign dispenser of money and things. When we say, “Mine,” then we have denied the living God. No, all is God’s. Ours is the responsibility.
Now in the parable to which I was referring, the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus makes plain that our position towards money and things is that of a steward. We must be ready to give an account of our stewardship.
A steward was one who was entrusted with his lord’s possessions. He was to use those possessions in his lord’s best interest. And he was to be ready always to give an answer as to how he had used those possessions.
Once again, stewardship says concerning God that He is a marvelous and a generous God. He is no cruel tyrant. He gives us all things, says the Scriptures. I Timothy 6:17 says that God gives us all things richly, to enjoy. It pleases God to entrust to our care His goods so that we might enjoy them and glorify Him in them. And He gives us a certain liberty of action, so that we may use them according to our abilities in His best interest. The Lord gives us the joy and the privilege to care for His earthly things, and to use our energies, our talents, and our wisdom. We do not say, then, to a child whose room is messy, “You need to learn to be responsible for the things that you own.” But we say to the child, “You must be responsible to care for the things of God.”
A steward never has ownership rights. Suppose that you go on vacation in the summer, and you want someone to care for your house: feed the dog, water the plants, and take in the mail. You say, “You can even live in my house. You can sleep in my bed.” But whom do you choose? Well, you will choose someone who is responsible and faithful to you, who will act in your best interest. If water leaks into the basement while you are gone, or if the roast in the oven burns and fills the house with smoke, you expect him to take the actions that you would take if you were there, because he knows that you are coming back and that it is your home.
So also stewardship implies the profound knowledge in the child of God that all things in this life entrusted to us are not our own, but we are answerable to our Master. That means that we must know the will of our Master, that we have an outline of how He wants us to invest, how He wants us to administer and use His goods. Then we will be faithful, seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. Then we will be energetic, not lazy. Then we will not be covetous or selfish, always asking how we can use these things for our own pleasures, but we will delight in using them for God’s service, for God’s pleasure, for the pursuit of His kingdom, for the good of His church, for the good of the instruction and education of our children, for the spreading of His Word in missions, for the use and help of the poor. It becomes a matter, then, of deep conviction. Not only does God abstractly own all things, but He has entrusted them to me as a steward. Your liquid assets, your cash, your fixed assets, your strength, your time, your energy, your talents—all of these things are given to you of God.
As children of God, it goes beyond even that. We confess that the spiritual things, the precious heritage of the truth of the gospel, is entrusted to our care. Therefore, we must hold fast to the faith, to the faith of the Holy Scriptures with faithfulness. And we must be willing to evangelize. We must have zeal for the spread of the gospel. It means that everything that we do will be done to the glory of God. The Reformed Christian has one life. He does not have a religious life, a secular life, and a professional life. He has one life. And that is with respect to his finances as well. All financial decisions have a spiritual dimension. They tell something of us. You can know a man by his financial portfolio. You have a checkbook? You have a credit card statement? It witnesses to your spirituality. It shows you, and it shows all your priorities. You do not have to show it to someone else. You have to show it to God. It shows what you put first in your life.
Our priorities, then, will be different than the world’s. The world uses earthly things for themselves. The child of God uses earthly things for the Father’s smile and for the Father’s glory.
Give an account of your stewardship. Everything that we do with the earthly must be done in the realization that we must answer to God for what we have done.
There will be many stewards in the last day who will be caught unawares; they will be caught red-handed; they will have their hand in the pot. We must take our stewardship seriously, for God does. God takes the use of money and things that He has entrusted to us seriously, because our stewardship in money and things reflects our stewardship in other things.
In Luke 16:10 the Lord also said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Stewardship in earthly things is the index of faithfulness in great things. How you use your money is a reflection of your deepest attitude toward God.
Are you ready? Are you ready today to give an account of your stewardship? Do you pray each day that you might use everything entrusted to you—money, possessions, home, car, body, talents—as His joyful and faithful steward, seeking your heavenly Father’s honor in all that you do?
Let us pray.
Father, we pray that Thy Word may enter into our hearts that we may be humbled before it, that we may be wise, faithful, and diligent stewards of Thy things. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.