Letting Go of Ownership
Do not store up for your selves treasures on earth, where mobs and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where mobs and of vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
Then he said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
We are called to the life of the faithful steward, rejecting a false sense of ownership and being set free by the total surrender of the one-kingdom steward.
The idea of “storing up treasures for ourselves on earth” should seem ludicrous. We have made the claim that all of life in every aspect is a gift from God. We defined our role on this earth as stewards of these precious gifts. Imagine the audacity of grabbing these gifts for our self and claiming some kind of counterfeit ownership, as though we were their creator and the redeemer. Absurd! But that is the constant siren call of the enemy, to get us to grab control and claim ownership over those things that have been so lovingly given back to us through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Here we stand at the crossroads of perhaps the greatest decision of our lives.
- Will we follow the values of the world around us and pretend we are owners or will we embrace the mantle of the faithful steward?
- Will we fall to the temptation to spend our lives growing our own kingdom, amassing wealth, consuming more than we need and claiming that somehow it is all an indication of God’s blessing in our lives or will we choose to “lose” this counterfeit life that we may gain the real-life God created us to live?
- Will our measurement of success in our life be based on our income or our outflow?
This is where two worldviews collide. It is where the values of the kingdom of God run directly counter to the world’s standards and norms. It is where following Jesus Christ will require sacrifice, yet yield a different and more meaningful kind of abundance than we have ever known. It is the narrow gate, the path of obedience, the way of the Cross.
In the end it is absolute freedom. We will conclude this first trek on this note. Playing the owner will always reward us with bondage. Embracing our call to be stewards will always set us free. If you are facing fear, stress, anxiety, doubt, despair, sadness or discouragement, my question for you is this: do you want to be free?
Then this is your journey – the journey of the faithful steward set free.
I challenge you to take this action seriously. Just do it and see if it doesn’t have a profound and lasting affect on you. Get the deed to your house, the title to your car, your investment portfolio, your bank account statements, your retirement account documents and the birth certificates for each of your children (if you don’t have some of these items, find things that represent your ownership of the stuff in your life). Place all of these things on the table; just pile them up and sit and look at them for a moment. Then hold hands with your spouse, children or friends and pray the prayer below. This is your opportunity to feel what it is like to relinquish the counterfeit ownership of people and things (which you never really have anyway) and experience the freedom of the faithful steward.
Lord, this is so hard. The world around me drives me to buy more, to measure my worth by what I possess and to trust my security to what I store up for myself. I confess that everything I call ‘mine’ has become a source of bondage for me. I confess that I place my security and look for happiness in things rather than in you. Forgive me Lord, and please, set me free! I claim today that you are the sole Owner of everything in my life in all four spheres. Drive from my heart the thirst for ownership and the hunger for control. Give me a heart that desires only you; one that is satisfied with obedience and content with simplicity. It’s all yours, Lord. Help me to remember that every moment of every day and help me live with the freedom that results from that simple yet transformational statement. Set me free, Lord, set me free! In the name of the one who came to set us free, indeed, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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