Ever seen the bumper sticker: “I owe, I owe so off to work I go”? That one always gets to me and makes me think, How depressing! It seems to be based on a false narrative from our culture that says, “Things bring you happiness.” After all, who hasn’t had moments of “retail therapy”? I know I have!
Recently, I had car trouble and ended up needing new tires and brake pads. While talking with a friend, I was lamenting the fact that I wasn’t prepared for that expense the way I wish I had been. My friend responded, “Tell God that His car needs new tires and brake pads.”
I loved my friend’s perspective, which reminded me I really don’t own my car as the title suggests. My responsibility is to take care of the car. The car itself belongs to God.
What if you made a list of everything you own? Then what if you told God that you recognize these things ultimately belong to Him but that you’re happy to watch over them for His Kingdom purposes? How would that make you feel? Would you still be inclined to hold on to some of these items – to consider them your own? After all, we’re human.
This summer in my book club we’re reading The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith. Each week of the book study, we are encouraged to try some “soul-training” exercises. One week we focused on “deaccumulation” – letting go of things when we have more of something we truly don’t need but could give that away to bless someone in need.
For most people, letting things go is tough. Many of us have a great attachment to our “stuff.” Sure, we have worked hard for many of our material things. But what if letting go of something you own meant freedom and encouragement for someone else? How would that feel?
That process is good stewardship – plain and simple.
The Psalmist reminds us that God owns everything – it’s all His:
“For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
– Psalm 50:10
Recently, I was challenged by this quote from Richard Foster, a Quaker theologian known for his writings on spiritual formation:
“God’s ownership of everything also changes the kind of question we ask in giving. Rather than ‘How much of my money should I give to God?’ we learn to ask ‘How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?’ The difference between these two questions is of monumental proportions.”
Lord, help us to remember that everything we “own” ultimately belongs to You. Show us how to be wise stewards of what You have entrusted to us. Amen