Lesson

God’s Property Managers

Even though everything belongs to God, He expects us to manage it. Jesus told of a landowner (see Matt. 25:14–28) who, before going on an extended trip, divided his property among his servants. When he returned, the owner interviewed each worker to learn how well he had managed his assigned portion. He rewarded those who had done well but punished the one who did nothing.

What does Jesus want us to learn from this parable?

  • There is an owner who goes away and returns. God, of course, is that owner. He came to Earth as the man Jesus, He ascended to heaven, and He will one day return to Earth (Acts 1:9–11).
  • Jesus expects us, His servants, to manage the assets of planet Earth the same way He would if He were here in person. I am reminded of the time—as Power of Attorney for my uncle—I was admonished to “act in good faith for the best interest of the principal, using due care, competence, and diligence.”
  • Each of us will be held accountable for how well we managed God’s property.
  • We will be judged on how we have made God’s assets grow—or not.

Why Would God Put Sinful Humans in Charge of His Assets?

God’s ways are not our ways. Net worth, rates of return, and annual dividends mean little to God because His most valued possessions are people, not portfolios. He requires our management so He can mold our character, and He uses money as the catalyst. Why?

  • We are forced to prioritize between God and money. Luke 16:13 (NIV) states, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Choosing between God and money is seldom a black and white issue. Should you buy a new car? Should you remodel your kitchen? Should you order lobster or a hamburger? God knows there are no “one size fits all” answers, meaning He expects us to wrestle day to day, sometimes moment to moment, with whether our money decisions honor him. But this wrestling is a good thing because, in so doing, we are practicing in real time the concepts Jesus taught two millennia ago. And this constant practice draws us incrementally closer to God.
  • Money management exposes our deep- est motives. The rich young ruler (Mark 10:17–25) left Jesus in sorrow because he clung to his wealth. But Zacchaeus, the tax collector, (Luke 19:1–10) demonstrat- ed his salvation by giving away much of his fortune.
  • Managing God’s money is more than a robotic bookkeeping exercise. He expects us to know his mind, his heart, and his will so we can think his thoughts and feel his feelings. The good news is that God delights in sharing himself with his children, and will do so as we spend time with him in prayer and his word.
  • We are naturally selfish, but God changes our hearts as we manage His money. I (Joe) have pinched pennies all my life, but as I have managed God’s money over the years, I have seen God change my tight fistedness to a love of giving. I still have far to go, but He continues to mold me. Isn’t God amazing?
  • It’s easier to give stuff away when it belongs to someone else. If your boss told you to write a $1,000 company check to a civic organization, you wouldn’t think twice. But writing a personal check...well, that’s a different matter. Or is it? Not if it all belongs to God in the first place.
  • So why would God put sinful humans in charge of His assets? Because He is in the people business, not the money business.

Making It Work

You may be thinking, “All this talk about God owning everything sounds good in theory, but I’ve got such a tight grip on ‘my stuff’ that I’m not sure I can let go. Any suggestions?”

Sure. Loosening our grip is difficult because doing so forces us to probe the deeper issue of surrender, not simply our possessions but our hopes, our dreams—our very lives. This surrender will likely happen in increments and may need to be repeated time after time. Jan and I (Joe) gave our daughter to God when she was born, but twenty months later, as she was battling a life-threatening infection, we gave her to God again...this time at a much deeper level.

The key is to get started. These tips will help: 

  • If married, discuss this “surrender” with your spouse. Flush out the ramifications, and make sure you are on the same page. This is not some emotionally charged decision but a calm, calculated commitment.
  • Tell God it all belongs to Him. Be specific: your house, your car, your 401k, your children, each other. Say it out loud or write—and sign—a transfer of ownership document.
  • Take some actions to jumpstart this surrender and cement it into your psyche. For example, you could do one or more of the following:
  • Start giving in earnest to your local church.
  • Loan—or give—your car (God’s car) to a single mother or needy family.
  • Dedicate God’s television/computer/cell phone to activities he would approve of.
  • Give away your surplus "stuff" to someone.
  • Give of your time by helping others. 

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