Understanding Christian Stewardship #1 by Peter J. Blackburn
Psalmist expressed it so well and we love the words –
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24.1)
But do we believe them? And do we live them?
Whose world is it? Is it God’s world, or is it our world? Perhaps it is partly God’s and partly ours? Or is there some way in which it is both God’s and ours at the same time?
A few years ago I was preparing to preach on the eighth commandment – "You shall not steal." I was struck by this statement by one writer, "The true intent of the Eighth Commandment… is to guarantee to [persons] the privilege of responsible stewardship in the possession and use of material values… to provide the guarantee that the stewardship privilege granted by God shall not be annulled by [humanity]… Stealing is interference with the stewardship of another by appropriating or removing from his/her control any part of that which God has entrusted to him/her."
The writer was saying that our ownership of property and things is never absolute. At the most, we have a stewardship of our possessions – a stewardship for which we are responsible to God and which others in society are to respect.
Jesus insisted that our life "does not consist in the abundance of [our] possessions." He told a story about a man whose land had produced a bumper crop. His response was to build bigger barns to store it up for the future. Then he would settle down and enjoy himself. Just one problem – he would die that night and couldn’t take it all with him! "Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Lk. 12.20)
Perhaps we have it all worked out – a will in place, arrangements for the future, provision for our loved ones… That can all be part of good and reasonable stewardship, provided… Yes, provided we recognise first and foremost that this is God’s world, that all that we own belongs to him, that we ourselves are his…
Reflect again on the Psalmist’s words,
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Because God made me, because it is all his, because I am to be a responsible steward of all that I am and have… how should I then live?

© Peter J Blackburn 2001.
Scripture quotations from New International Version © International Bible Society, 1984