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Stewarding God\'s Stuff

By Michael Roop

This is part three in a four-part series on generosity. To catch up on the rest of the series, click here.

So far in this series, we’ve seen that the happier life is found in giving, not in receiving; that a posture of generosity is in line with our nature, and therefore for our good; and that God’s willing provision makes the posture of generosity the safest place for us to be. So if we’re compelled to pursue a life of generosity, let me provide three biblical principles to guide us.

God Owns It All
First, we must grapple with the fact that God owns everything. The basis for this claim is the same basis for intellectual property rights. If you create an idea, it’s yours to do with as you please, and no one else can profit from it without being guilty of theft. In the same way, all creation is God’s because He created all things. David states this principle most clearly in the opening lines of Psalm 24. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof // the world and those who dwell therein // for he has founded it upon the seas // and established it upon the rivers.”

Whatever name is on the title, deed, or account, God owns it all. Your house, your cars, your bank account or investment portfolio, your calendar, your relational network - you name it, and it’s His. So, whatever has our name on it is ours to steward for God’s purposes, not ours to own for our purposes. In the end, the good and faithful servant is the one who stewards for their portion of God’s stuff for His glory (Matthew 25:14-30).

We Give Our First and Best
We proclaim God’s ownership by giving our first and best (Exodus 13:2). Abel’s offering was acceptable to God because it was the first and best of his flock (Genesis 4:4). Proverbs calls us to “honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce” (3:9). God commands that the first of everything - fruit, crops, animals, dough, even sons! - be set apart for Him (Nehemiah 10:35-39).

Today, most giving is “leftover” giving, not firstfruits giving. Whether with our calendar, our physical and emotional resources, or our money, we give the first and best to ourselves, cover our lifestyle and our future, and then if anything is leftover, we feel ready to give. But the invitation to whole-life generosity tells a better, truer story. God is our caretaker and provider, and it’s all His stuff anyway, so we are free to give the first and best back to God.

We Prioritize God’s “Plan A”
Finally, our giving prioritizes God’s “Plan A,” which is the local church. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I believe that the local church is the primary vehicle of God’s plan to make all things new. Christians should be generous toward other entities, such as missionaries, parachurch organizations, or local non-profits. But none of these worthy objects of our giving should come at the expense of giving to Jesus’ bride, body, and house, the local church.

That last paragraph might sound self-serving coming from a pastor. I get that, and yet I can’t help but lay before us what we’re called to in Scripture. As we say all the time, generosity is not about what we want from you, but what we want for you: the happier life promised by Jesus (Acts 20:35). So next week, as we wrap up this series, we will look at these three principles of whole-life generosity applied to our time, talent, and treasure.

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