2/8/12

Stewardship of 'Our Stuff'

When my little Jack Russell Terrier, Bailey, died unexpectedly a few summers ago, I was heartbroken; but God gave me a great, comforting sense that I had been a good "steward" of one of His little creatures. God reminded me that all that I own belongs to Him ~ including pets ~ and that I am simply His manager. I was simply blessed for a season to care for little Bailey.

I've had a sense of that since I served in a revival ministry, and my home church pastor speaks to our congregation about that truth every January during "Stewardship Month," too. Lately, the Lord has reminded me that stewardship isn't just about money or time or talents.

As I watched a recent television program about hoarding, I was appalled by the people who were overwhelmed by the things in their homes. In a real sense, they are buried beneath the weight of their possessions! Then the Lord spoke to me about the "stuff" in my home.

It's easy to condemn those who have gone overboard about their possessions (with little discernment about how much is too much, and seemingly no sense of how to care for what they own); but God reminded me that my "stuff" is my responsibility, too, and I'm not always making wise decisions.

The Lord directed me to my own bulging cabinets and closets. I opened each one and simply looked ... observing the contents. Discernment would come later. For the moment, God just wanted me to "see."

I think that sometimes we get so caught up in life that we don't see what we already have. A friend of mine named Carolyn Peak once told me she considered why she had so many pairs of scissors. I laughed at the time, but now, further down the line in regard to wisdom, I understand her thinking. Why do we think we need so much ~ especially when there are so many with needs?

God spoke to me about the motives behind what I buy, keep and store, as well as how I use what He has allowed me to have. I had to admit that my "want-er" was getting out of control again. It was a question of stewardship. Was I managing my stuff well?

And did I understand that it really wasn't "my" stuff in the first place? Was He really in charge? King David said, "... all things come from You, and out of Your own [hand] we have given to You" (1 Chronicles 29:14). It's all on loan from God, and we are responsible for how we use what He has shared with us.

Some might think that this is restrictive thinking, but I've found it freeing. If God is in charge of my stuff ~ if I am asking Him for direction about my choices ~ then I can relax and know that He will lead. I simply need to obey.

So now I'm going back to those same closets and shelves with an eye toward better stewardship. I'm looking at books on bookshelves, food in my pantry, home decor, etc., with fresh perspective. I'm asking tough questions, and being honest with the answers.

For one, nothing leaves this life except for the eternal Word of God and the souls of men. That indicates one priority, right there. And then, there are the commands and callings of God. I'm asking what God expects of me in regard to stewardship of things and my roles as a believer, wife, mother, grandmother, and servant in ministry. I'm even asking Him how he wants me to care for our new pup, Roscoe, in regard to good stewardship.

God wants us to make choices that are proactive, intentional, biblical, and wise ~ and this applies in practical ways to our stewardship.

What do you find are the most difficult choices to make concerning stewardship of your stuff?

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