Radical Life Stewardship

Posted: 2011 10 13 by Chris Goforth in Biblical manhood

“One of the greatest missing teachings in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.” — Gordon MacDonald, American pastor and teacher

When I was young and growing up I was selfish.  I wanted everything my way.  I had my stuff and I didn’t want my sister or anyone else touching it.  It was mine and it belonged to me.  I continued on this pathway for many years.  I was always worried about myself and gave little thought to others.  I wanted to the spot light; I wanted to be the most important thing.  I didn’t want to be bothered with your problems, listen to you wine or cry about what was wrong with your life.  I wanted to be the center of everything.  I had very few things in my life and lived a fairly drama free life.  I didn’t have the ability to empathize, listen, extend grace or truly care for others.  I really was never going to lay my life down for anyone else.

One of the things I remember hearing in college from other believers that always struck me as way off base.  Their children were not their own, they were on loan from God.  I just remember always walking away and thinking you guys are crazy.  It used to fuel my belief of them being religious freaks and who I wanted to stay away from.   In my thinking I would reason I want to live a full life, I want to live to be 100, get married, have a family and enjoy them.  I didn’t want to miss out on a minute any of it.  When I had kids they were mine, they didn’t belong to anyone else.  I was the one responsible for them.

Ephesians 5:15-17 – Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.

Over the years God has gotten a hold of me and completely transformed my heart and head around life, people and things.   First and foremost, everything we have is a gift from God.  There is nothing that we own or have that has not been put into our laps for a reason.  How we chose to use it is up to us.  God has designed us to be the conduits of the things we have.  We can choose to be selfish or we can choose to be selfless.

Thing about it for a moment?  Why are you in the job you are in, why do you live where you are at, your friends, neighbors, school and your community.  What about the home you live in, the vehicles you drive?  What about the food and clothes you have, the books, music, movies?  What about your family and children? Even those little trinkets and jewelry.  All of these things have been provided to you by God.  The next question is, what are you doing with them?  Are you keeping them all to yourself or are you using them to bring glory to God?  Are you using them wisely, are you blessing others in ways that are possible?

Prov. 24:3-4 – Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.

As God has transformed me I have been able to view this from a very different lens.  It is in fact true; God has provided me with everything.  I am a steward of those things and it is my job to be wise in how I use them.  I should be using all the things I have to bless others and bring glory to his name.  I believe the concept of ownership is part of it.  The reality is being, it can be removed in matter or seconds.  It does belong to God and he does expect us to use those things in good ways.  When you come to the end of your life, I have yet to see anyone bringing a u-haul truck to the cemetery to bury all their possessions with them.  You aren’t going to take it with you; you will leave that stuff behind.  Your body will return to the ground, all the things you had will one day be destroyed.

Consider using your car to help your neighbor get to appointments or to the grocery store.  What about all the extra clothing or blankets you have, can they be donated to others in your community who have a need.  What about the shelters?  Are you able to open up your home to invite your neighbors in and build relationships with them?  When you are making food, can you make extra and take it to someone you know who is struggling?  What about with your money can you afford to help out some kids in the neighborhood who need a helmet or bicycle?  There’s a hundred other ways you can use what you have to bless others and provide for their needs.

To start, pray and ask God in what ways you can use your things to bless those around you.  In my experience if you feel led to do something, generally that is God prompting you to do it.  Think about what you have, do you really need all those things?  Is there something you can live without that might benefit and bless someone else?

As God has worked in my life and changed my heart it has changed the way my wife and I live our lives.  We purchased a larger home so we could have room to house international exchange students.  We adopted one our daughter and in the process of finalizing the adoption of our Foster son.  Our home is open to pretty much anyone at anytime.  My wife has the gift of hospitality and she has used that more times than I can count to make meals for our neighbors, friends and even teachers at our kids school.  She does this to say thank you and know that we love you.  We used to have a 15 passenger van that God miraculously delivered into our hands when I was a High School Youth Pastor, we have allowed countless other folks to use it for whatever they needed.  If someone comes to us and asks us for money we give it and tell them they never have to pay us back.

Now I am not trying to brag here and make it seem like we are some special people.  My preference would be that we gave away most of what we had and lived on very little.  In raising a large family that is easier said than done.  The bottom line for us is being good stewards of all that we have and using them to acknowledge they are from God and he has blessed us in ways we never imagined.

So the question I leave you with?  How are you stewarding the things God has given you?

Comments
  1. Jason says:

    Not as well as I should have been. That’s probably why He’s taken almost all of it away.

    • Well knowing who you are, I believe that you strive to every day. I certainly don’t do as well at it as I should each and every day. Keep pushing forward though Jason.

    • Barry Holcomb says:

      Jason, brother,

      Don’t put yourself down. None of us is perfect, and if we are determined to go forward and grow with God – then we will be pruned, shaped, cultivated, fertilized by His own hand. And at times we will be in the furnace, like the latest update describes.

      If you read the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego carefully, there are a couple of details worth noting. The 3 men were thrown into the furnace bound hand and foot. The furnace was so hot that it destroyed the men who threw them in, but our 3 were not killed. No, they were seen walking around INSIDE the furnace perfectly comfortable, in the presence of Another. When the king had them released from the furnace, they came out perfectly fine, untouched, unscathed, not even a hair was singed nor did they smell of smoke. THE ONLY THINGS DESTROYED IN THE FIERY FURNACE WERE THE ROPES THAT BOUND THEM.

      We ALL need correction and discipline by the Father. Our best response is to accept those corrections as coming from His loving heart. Don’t fight against His work. Allow Him to correct us and make us better servants.

      Barry

      PS I noticed your avatar and really like it. Also read your profile. I know a dear brother who lives in Knoxville. You may know him as well, goes by his nickname Chip.

  2. Barry Holcomb says:

    How wonderful to hear that God is moving in others as He has in my own life. I don’t feel comfortable spending a lot on myself unless I have given that amount of more to the church or some other vessel to help others. A few months ago I looked through my house and saw how I was hoarding a number of things for purely sentimental reasons. As I pondered this walking around my yard, I rededicated everything to the Lord. Every blade of grass, every trinket, every penny I have is His, so why should I hold onto things? I gave many things away and passed sentimental objects on to others in the family who would appreciate them.

    In my college years I read several books by or about Watchman Nee. In his walk, he had grown and decided that 10% was not enough to give. So he increased it to 20%. He experienced greater blessings from God, and increased it to 30%. The story goes that eventually he reached the point of giving 90% to God and living on the 10%. If he acquired ANYTHING he especially liked (even if it were something as simple as a tube of toothpaste) he would go back and purchase another and give it away that others might enjoy it as well.

    Recently I have helped an emotionally ill mother and her out of work son, buying them groceries, giving them a ride to the store, giving the son a bicycle. With each little gift, they always say they will pay me back. My response is that everything I have comes from God, so it would not be right for me to hoard while they are without. I tell them when their situation improves, to share with others instead.

    • Barry, that is great to hear. I am glad that you are looking at life in that lens. I fully believe in being selfless and blessing others God will continue to bless us. There is no way to out give God. Keep up with what you are doing and thanks for sharing and coming by our site. Glad to have your comments.

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