The truth is we never really get over being “Toys R Us” kids, our toys just get more expensive and more numerous! We spend more and more money to get more and more stuff and yet have less satisfaction and bigger debts.
How God moves us from needing to own and control stuff to wanting to be owned and controlled – by Him:
1) Ownership – It’s mine! I own it! I’ll do with it what I please!
2) Stewardship – It’s mine. I will try to manage it in a way that pleases God.
3) Loanership – It is not mine. It has been given by God and I will please Him.
4) Lordship – I am His. Everything I have belongs to Him. I will serve as He directs.
“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” I Chronicles 29:11
Ownership – “It’s mine! I own it! I’ll do with it what I please!”
We recently paid off one of our vehicles. It felt good to get the title in the mail to formally affirm that we own this car! I won’t think about how much it cost me in car payments to own it. Nevertheless, my name is on the title and the registration.
One of the driving forces behind the “American Dream” is the desire to own expensive things like:
1) the biggest house they can afford (or not)
2) the biggest and most powerful vehicles they can afford (or make payments on)
3) the best boat they can get
4) the best motorcycle or RV or fill in the blank - _____________.
In the USA, we tend to judge success and wealth in terms of how much stuff we manage to get during life. Increasingly we see the development of the Golden Rule – those with the gold make the rules. Many live from the perspective that the one who dies with the most toys wins. However, everyone takes his or her last ride in a rented car and that hearse never has a U-Haul trailer attached.
There are two main reasons why owning stuff is at the heart of the American Dream – we are free and because we are free we are able to be prosperous. Both of those are blessings from God.
However, I can think of several other powerful needs that ownership appeals
- Owning something gives feelings of power
- Owning something gives a sense of permanence and security
- Owning something gives a sense of pride
Don’t misunderstand, I bleed red, white and blue, and I believe in capitalism, and I have stuff that I own as well as other stuff I hope to own! But when your ownership is driven by emotional needs rather than practical realities you are in dangerous territory. That path leads to materialism, which is a form of idolatry. It can also lead to slavery because it can get you into the bondage of debt. Plus, it doesn’t meet the basic need and probably will frustrate you more. Ownership is fine until you get owned by what you own or by the need to own. (AVOID – “OWERSHIP” to GET OWNERSHIP)
God’s world success is judged not so much on what you get but by what your willing to give. Jesus said, “Lay up treasures in Heaven where moths and rust do not corrupt or thieves break into to steal.” Then He makes His point, “For where your treasures are there will your heart be also!”
When you use your wealth and possessions to help others and bless others and advance God’s Kingdom you are turning the material into eternal. Investing in God will bring benefits that are out of this world?
This might be a good time to do a quick inventory of your “stuff”. Do you own it or does it own you? Are you spending your life or investing it?
Stewardship – “It’s mine. I will try to manage it in a way that pleases God.”
The “ownership attitude” is represented in the Bible by a foolish man who Jesus told about in one of His stories. This man had a bountiful harvest and decided he would build bigger barns and live it up with wine, women, and parties. But that night, he died and went into eternity unprepared. All that he owned couldn’t help him in eternity and he left all his riches to others.
Another example of the ownership attitude is the Rich Young Ruler who came to Jesus with his impressive resume of success and religious practice. But when Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and become His follower, the young man walked away.
I want to talk about what I believe is the next growth point on the road to generosity. I may challenge some assumptions at this point or make some of you just plain angry. But I think stewardship is just the second step and not the destination for givers.
I have come to that conclusion partially because of the Pharisees. They were faithful tithers – not just of their money, but they tithed on everything! This was their attitude - “It’s mine. I will try to manage it in a way that pleases God.”
However, you see them being rebuked by Jesus because they were doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Apparently, their reason for tithing was to impress God and to impress people – the wanted to look religious. Also, they wanted to escape the guilt of not doing what they had been taught and trained to do. Their tithing wasn’t driven by a deep sense of generosity nor a deep compassion to help the poor. Wanting to earn their salvation and earn the admiration of people motivated everything they did. The Pharisees gave in order to get.
Stewardship is better than ownership. Stewardship indicates a level of spiritual growth beyond ownership. But it is often motivated by legalism rather than love. It is often ownership with a conscience. It is giving with an expectation of return. While often help up as the ultimate ideal for Christian giving, I believe it is a positive step on the journey to Lordship.
Are you tithing? What is motivating you to tithe – is it love or is it legalism? Do you view it as giving your money to Him?
Loanership – “It’s not mine. It was given to me. I will give it to God”
Jesus did a lot of miracles during His earthly ministry. One of the best known of those supernatural acts was the feeding of the 5,000 (which in fact, was 10,000 to 15,000 counting women and children). That’s a lot of happy meals and a whole bunch of people – especially when they had no food!
The reason that Jesus was able to accomplish this amazing feat was because a young boy donated his lunch to Jesus and the disciples. This lad is an example of what I call “Loanership”, the third step in overcoming the ownership myth. His attitude was, “My lunch is not mine, it was given to me and I will give it to God.” As a youngster, he waived his ownership rights in the knowledge that all blessings come from God. He refused to claim it and was quick to share it.
Popular radio personality, Rush Limbaugh often declares his “talent is on loan from God”. It is a humorous acknowledgement of a serious fact – we are here temporarily and by the grace of God. Each of us, as well as all we have comes with an expiration date.
Missionary martyr, Jim Eliot, once said when asked why an educated young man would give up a chance at a comfortable career to go to a remote Amazon jungle, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
“Loanership” is a more spiritually mature attitude than ownership because it understands the temporary nature of life and the surrendered nature of believers. It is preferable to stewardship because it makes no claim of possession, takes no credit for earning it and seeks God’s will in how it should be used.
The “loanership” attitude of this lad, allowed Jesus to transform five loaves and two fish into the original power lunch! The simple lunch basket became a supernatural lunch buffet!
Have you grown to the “loanership” level or are you still laying claim to what He has given you to share?
Lordship – “I am God’s, everything I have is God’s and God can use it as He pleases.”
Have you noticed that many times when people say, “It’s not about the money” that it is about the money? But when God says. “It is not about the money” it is about much more that money.
With God, it’s not about ownership because He already owns everything. And it is not about stewardship because we can give our money and keep our hearts. And it is not about loanership because it is not possession He wants – He wants to possess us! He wants us to possess Him and His holiness and His authority and His power.
THAT is Lordship!
Lordship is Abraham offering Isaac on an altar when God’s will is confusing.
Lordship is Noah building an ark for over a century when it hadn’t rained.
Lordship is Joshua declaring, “As for me and my house……..”
Lordship is Job declaring, “Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him”
Lordship is a widow giving her last penny to honor God at the Temple.
Here’s what Lordship looks like:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
MONEY SPEAKS! IT TELLS:
Who You Love
Whose Your Lord