It’s a surprise to many people that God ever spoke about stewardship in any form, especially so when it is combined with money and possessions. God’s first comments begin as the world was created — day six. In Genesis 1:27 God created mankind in His image, male and female. In verse 28 He blessed them and said to them “Have dominion over…all living things.”
Dominion is defined as having ruling power, authority or control. Ownership is never mentioned. God gave us dominion, but not ownership, over all living things. While mankind didn’t receive ownership, Scripture is very clear about what God owns. In Deuteronomy we are told, “To the Lord belong even the highest heavens; the earth is his also, and everything on it.” (10:14 GNT) In Psalm24:1 we are told, “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his.”
Haggai 2:8 tells us that God owns all of the precious metals — “All the silver and gold of the world is mine.” And in Leviticus 25:23 (GNT) we are told, “Your land must not be sold on a permanent basis, because you do not own it…”
The Lord created all things, and he never transferred the ownership of his creation to mankind. You and I own nothing! Absolutely nothing! Recognizing God’s ownership is crucial in allowing Jesus to become the Lord of our money and possessions.
When we acknowledge God’s ownership, every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. We no longer ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my money?” The question becomes, “Lord, what do you want me to do with your money?” When we handle his money according to his wishes, spending and saving decisions become as spiritual as giving decisions.
Our culture says that what you possess you own. Our culture also continues to remind us that we can never have enough “stuff.” Acknowledging God’s ownership requires a transformation of thinking and this is never an easy thing to do. It’s easy to give intellectual assent to the idea that “God owns all that I have,” but still live as if this wasn’t true at all.
Recognizing the Lord’s ownership is important to learning contentment. When you believe you own a particular possession, circumstances surrounding it will affect your attitude. If it is favorable, you will be happy. If it is a difficult circumstance, you will be discontent.
So if God owns everything, what are we supposed to do? Our role is to be a steward. A steward is a manager of someone else’s possessions. In the verse from Genesis, the Lord gave us the authority, actually the responsibility, to be stewards.
What identifies a steward? The Catechism provides several answers. “Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer: so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure. But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.” (USCCB; United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 450).
Our responsibility is summed up in this verse, “Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) Before we can be trustworthy, we must know what we are required to do. Just as the purchaser of a complicated piece of machinery studies the manufacturer’s manual to learn how to operate it, we need to examine the Creator’s handbook — the Holy Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sacred Tradition — to determine how he wants us to handle his possessions.
How do you handle your money and possessions? Do you think God would approve?