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Home > Research Library > The Biblical Case for Giving > Theological Topics > God’s Ownership and Man’s Stewardship

God’s Ownership and Man’s Stewardship

Below are articles and papers that explain God’s lordship over all creation and ownership of all things, and man’s corresponding role as an appointed steward/manager of God’s possessions. Questions about God’s ownership and man’s stewardship?


Articles and Papers

Fostering an Attitude of Giving in Your Family
Lysa TerKeurst. Money Matters, December 2003.
Hope would not lend her mom, Lysa, her new shiny $10 bill. It was Hope’s ninth birthday, and Lysa was taking her out to eat. However, Lysa had not brought enough money for their burgers, and now she needed to use some of her daughter’s money to pay. She assured Hope that she would pay her back as soon as they got home. Eventually Hope gave in, but begrudgingly and without a trusting attitude. Hope didn’t know that in the mailbox at home there awaited a $50 bill from her grandmother. Lysa TerKeurst makes connections between Hope’s attitude and the way that we as Christians act towards our Father, who owns all the wealth in the world. If we are heirs with Christ of this spiritual fortune which greatly exceeds any earthly wealth, why should we ever be afraid of parting with our money?

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The Vital Link between Possessions and Your Soul
Wesley Willmer. New Wineskins 6, no. 3 (July/August 2002).
Dr. Wesley Wilmer, a prolific writer and former chairman of the Christian Stewardship Association, writes on the connection between earthly possessions and our eternal souls. Willmer makes his point clearly, showing from Scripture that what we do with our money on earth does indeed have eternal consequences. He offers five examples of this link between earthly possessions and eternity: (1) God will call us to account for how we use our possessions when we get to heaven. (2) Our giving is an opportunity to reciprocate God’s grace. (3) God provides possessions as a tool to bring others to Christ. (4) The things entrusted to us are a test of which master and lord we really serve, i.e. God or money. (5) The use of possessions indicates to the world where our loyalties and commitments lie. Willmer concludes by exhorting us to keep God’s perspective on “stuff” in mind as we strive to grow as faithful dispensers of God’s grace. This article is adapted from Willmer’s book God and Your Stuff: The Vital Link between Your Possessions and Your Soul.

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The Steward and the Master
Randy Alcorn. Chapter in Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Rev. ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.
Randy Alcorn, founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, teaches explicitly that stewardship is not merely a dimension of the Christian life, but stewardship in fact “is the Christian life.” This excerpt from Alcorn’s exhaustive study on money and possessions uses three of Jesus’ parables to illustrate every person’s call to stewardship: the parable of the shrewd manager, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the ten minas. Alcorn draws several lessons from these stewardship parables: (1) the long-term significance of today’s behavior and choices, (2) the inevitability of consequences for all actions, (3) the steward’s painstaking responsibility to choose wisely and live rightly, (4) the steward’s clear-cut incentives and motivations in his task, (5) the steward’s preoccupation with his responsibilities, not his rights and (6) the meaninglessness of everyone else’s evaluation of the steward compared to the judgment of his one and only Master. “God owns all things, whether we recognize it or not. But life becomes much clearer—and in some respects much easier—when we consciously recognize it.” Stewardship is about “living in the light of these overriding truths” and understanding that we are the errand boys and girls of God to do with his possessions as he sees fit.

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God’s Part in Our Finances: Scripture Offers Clear Reminders That ‘the Other’ 90% Is God’s Also
Howard Dayton. TheGoodSteward.com, February 23, 2001.
Many Christians assume that God is rightful owner of only 10 percent of our finances. Does that make us owners of the remaining 90 percent? Howard Dayton, president of Crown Ministries, emphatically argues “no.” The whole earth belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1): Not only does the 10 percent belong to him, but so does the remaining 90 percent. For this reason, God is very interested in how we should handle our money. The Bible calls us to steward that which belongs to him, both large and small.

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Stewardship Principles That Make a Difference
John C. Maxwell. Money Matters, no. 313 (February 2004).
Becoming a successful Christian leader is all about stewardship. Do you recognize that obedience to God requires you to steward your time, energy, resources and those of other people according to His principles? John Maxwell, author and founder of the INJOY group, lists four principles from Scripture that should orient our thinking about stewardship. He labels these the “Who’s in Charge” principle, the “Give and Grow” principle, the “Do It Now” principle, and the “River” principle. Learn what Maxwell means by “a river vs. a reservoir,” and find out more about why stewardship causes spiritual growth.

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An Inducement against Earthlimindedness
David Clarkson. From his “Works,” vol. 1. N.d.
“We must give account of all talents, all enjoyments, how improved, time, parts, riches,” writes Puritan David Clarkson (1622-86). According to Clarkson, scripture “abounds with evidence for this purpose, asserting the Lord’s title to all things, even such as we count ours, whether ours in common with others, or such as we think to be properly ours.” When we examine this, we will discover that He is the owner of us—and all we possess.

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Love Not the World: The Relation of the Christian to the World
C. Matthew McMahon. A Puritan’s Mind, n.d.
In the study of Christian stewardship, we should be sure we have a solid understanding of the contrast between the Christian and the world. The author teaches that without a stark contrast between the two, stewardship can never take place. To show this, McMahon examines Scripture from James and John as well as the words of great theologians concerning the Christian’s relationship to the world. “How could we be good steward before God if we are in direct opposition to Him in loving the world?” he asks. “This is totally impossible. We must for repent and turn ourselves away from focusing on the world system, and the manner in which the world thinks, and turn to God. Only there can stewardship truly begin.”

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God as an Investment Capitalist
J.L. Williams. New Directions for Living, no. 7.
God ... an investment capitalist? The founder of New Directions International shows how God, as an investor, expects high return from His people. Using Jesus’ parable in Luke 19, Williams leaves the reader asking “What have I gained with what I’ve been given?”

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God and Money
Crown Financial Ministries.

God says that if we pray for anything in His will, believing, it will be given to us. But God’s will is not always coincidental with ours. So, when we turn our finances over to God, we also must be willing to accept His direction, His will for those finances. In the scriptures, we find God’s will regarding money – the ways in which he uses it, and the ways in which it must not be used.

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God and Your Finances
Larry Burkett. CrossWalk.com.

It is a sad fact that there are many who profess to serve God but actually want God to serve them. They will give, but they always expect to be repaid. Why? Because so few really understand the role that finances play in our spiritual lives – they are an opportunity for growth in Christ. The financial principles given throughout God's Word there because God knows that they are best for us. God's principles of finances are not an arbitrary set of rules by which to govern us; they are a loving Father's wisdom to those who will listen and trust Him.

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God Owns Everything–Everything Means Everything
Ray Linder. Chap in “Financial Freedom: Seven Secrets to Reduce Financial Worry.” Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999.

Western culture promotes the idea that those who have the most money are the winners in life, but God's purposes for money are quite different. In determining winners and losers in God's economic system, it is the quality of financial management, not the quantity of money, which matters most. Godly financial stewardship is a matter of how, not how much. Because in fact, God owns everything, and we (strictly speaking) own nothing.

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Handling the Master’s Money: A Dozen Principles to Remember
Austin Pryor. TheGoodSteward.com, March 8, 2002.

Even the newest Christian knows this truth: your life is not your own; it belongs to Christ. But because of this, there are other consequences (also in the Bible): your body is not your own, and even your money is not your own. Whatever we have has been given to us by God, and we are accountable to him for it all. This article explains what it is to handle the Master’s money.

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Money and the Love of God
Charles C. Ryrie. Sound Mind Investing, July 2000.

To be sure, a vital spiritual life is closely related to fellowship with the Lord in Bible study and prayer, and to service in the Lord’s work. But our love for God may also be proved by something that is a prominent part of everyone's life – our use of money. How we use money demonstrates the reality of our love for God. In some ways it proves our love more conclusively than depth of knowledge, length of prayers, or prominence of service. These things can be feigned, but the use of our possessions shows us for what we actually are.

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Profiles of Christians Who Rob God
Randy Alcorn. Chapter in Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1989.

Randy Alcorn (of Eternal Perspective Ministries) introduces us to several believers who, due to various beliefs and circumstances (low income, credit card debt, donation of time, etc.), are “exempt” from giving. Alcorn goes on to show from scripture that these apparently innocent exemptions are in fact incidences of robbery. You might be surprised to find what you have in common with these “Christians who rob God.”

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Working for Two Masters
Mark Robbins. Christian Money Sense, October 8, 2001.

There is no problem with money, argues Mark Robbins; the problem is with us! God and money mix just fine – God himself is very wealthy. But serving God and money is an impossibility. It is not just difficult or a bad idea; it cannot be done. When money is set up as a master, it is an affront to God’s lordship. This article is a brief, challenging exposition of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6.

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A Call to Action
Todd Harper. Closing remarks delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference, Orlando, Fla., February 19-21, 2004.
There is a common thread in the stories of several givers whom the author has met: They asked God for direction, they listened to His call, and they obeyed His command. Each one acted when he sought and heard God’s call and, as a result, experienced the joy of obedience. Similarly, we all must ask Him for direction, be willing to listen to whatever He says, and follow the path He sets before us. As the old song says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

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Giving That Pleases God
Cynthia Heald. Excerpt from a speech delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference, Pasadena, Calif., February 28-March 2, 2003.
When the hardworking Martha complained to Jesus about her lazy sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus rebukes the former yet praises the latter. Mary, by sitting and listening at the feet of Jesus, has learned the secret of abiding in Christ. Martha, on the other hand, is too busy “serving” Christ to spend time with Him. Since we can do nothing apart from Jesus (John 15:5), we, too, must follow Mary’s example of abiding in Jesus. We do this today by reading His word. Having a reading plan and a set time to spend with God every day can aid our study of the Bible. But the most important key to growth is consistency. Faithful abiding quickens the heart to hear God’s promptings and leads to Spirit-guided giving. This resource also is available on compact disc.

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Expecting the Lord’s Blessing
Watchman Nee. Chapter in Twelve Baskets Full. Church Book Room, 1969.
Do you ever wonder why there were two different miracles recorded in Scripture concerning the feeding of thousands with very little food? Watchmen Nee (1903-72), a Chinese minister, writer and imprisoned martyr during Communist rule, believed the reason for this repetition lies in our slowness to learn a very valuable principle: In all our endeavors for God, we are to rely on His blessing, not on our own calculations and meager resources. Often, instead of expecting a miracle, we gaze upon the little that we have in our hands (such as the loaves and fish) and despair of the work that we are called to do. Our endeavors are limited by our shortsightedness and our lack of faith and trust. Although Nee is not specifically writing about our finances, the principle applies equally well: In order to be faithful stewards of God, we must trust that God will do more with our money and possessions than we could ever imagine; His blessing is always paramount.

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Stewardship
R.C. Sproul. Chap. in Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. Nashville: Thomas Nelson/W. Publishing Group, 2002.
While we are saved through faith by God’s grace alone, the president of Ligonier Ministries outlines five key disciplines essential for a productive Christian life: Bible reading, prayer, worship, service and stewardship. In this short bedside-table book’s final chapter, Sproul reminds us that although there is cynicism toward giving in our culture, the Bible commands Christians to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Everything we have already belongs to God—“He has loaned these things to us and expects us to manage them in a way that will honor and glorify Him.” In failing to give, especially of the tithe He requires, we are “robbing God” of that which is rightly His. Instead, we should view giving as an act of worship, a way of devoting every aspect of our lives to the glory of Christ.

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