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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

God Owns; We Manage

God Owns, We Manage

Luke 12:42 (NKJV) tells us that Jesus is looking for “faithful and wise stewards” who are fit for service in His kingdom. As believers, therefore, we should aspire to be good stewards. What does it mean to be a good steward? “Steward" is a somewhat archaic term meaning “manager.” A steward is one to whom an owner entrusts certain resources to be managed. This concept of management is familiar in modern society. We have store managers that run the daily operations of a store, but they are not the owners. They are trusted to manage the affairs of the business in the owner’s best interests. While managers’ responsibilities vary between organizations, they generally include operating whatever is within their sphere of influence in a compliant, culturally-aligned, and profitable manner. Through the manager’s actions, the owner avoids liability, influences the organization’s culture, and accrues wealth. The manager’s success becomes the owner’s success or the manager’s failure becomes the owner’s failure. Thus, the owner is very interested in the manager’s performance of his or her duties.


Biblical Stewardship

The owner-manager relationship in the Bible begins with God’s appointment of humanity as the managing species on earth. God states that man will be His manager in the earth in Genesis 1:26, saying “let them have dominion over the fish…, over the birds…, over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing… ...on the earth.” God then commissions man as the manager in Genesis 1:28, telling him “have dominion.” One of the earliest responsibilities of humanity is to manage God’s creation.


As free beings, we can choose to accept or reject this responsibility. While we will ultimately be held accountable for our obedience or disobedience to God’s commandment, we have the ability to choose to partner with Him as managers of His creation or to work against Him by using our management gifts for our own selfish desires.


Partnership

Jesus addressed partnership in Matthew 6:10, praying “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer suggests that God’s will is not already being done on earth. A quick look at the world around us validates this supposition. Many people are doing things which violate God’s will. If God owns the earth, why is His will not already done here as it is in heaven? The wickedness in the earth right now comes from its managers, not its Owner. Many of our fellow managers are not acting in the Owner’s best interest. This is why Jesus is looking for “faithful and wise stewards.” Jesus came to show us how to manage this earth God’s way. Jesus’ prayer for God’s will to be done requires not only management, but also partnership. We can and should choose to partner with God and commit to manage His creation His way. We communicate our partnership with God by recognizing His ownership of the earth and committing to manage it His way.


Acknowledge God’s Ownership

Genesis 14:18-20 tells the story of Abram and Melchizedek. After Abram had won a military victory, Melchizedek came to bless him. Melchizedek is an interesting foreshadowing of Jesus because he is both a king and high priest. In blessing Abram in Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek refers to the Lord as “God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” In doing this, Melchizedek explicitly acknowledges God’s ownership of the earth. He then goes on to glorify God for His role in the victory Abram had just won.


Tithing Communicates Commitment

Abram responded to Melchizedek’s blessing by tithing from the spoils of war. Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all he had acquired from the battle. Why does this matter? Abram tithed because he recognized God’s role as Owner of the earth. When Melchizedek called God “Possessor of heaven and earth,” Abram recognized Melchizedek as the rightful recipient of God’s tithe. By tithing to Melchizedek, Abram attached Himself to God’s plan and came into agreement with Melchizedek’s acknowledgement of God’s ownership, a sentiment he verbally echoes in Genesis 14:22. Abram tithed to communicate his commitment to God.


Likewise, today we acknowledge and commit to partner with God by tithing and giving to Him through our local church. While God wants our partnership, He never forces us to do anything. God wants to be chosen, not reluctantly, but eagerly. That’s why He loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). As you acknowledge that God owns everything, cheerfully choose to renew your commitment to partner with Him by managing things His way.

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