Christianity 201

November 5, 2021

Possessions: We’re Stewards, Not Masters

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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In a frequently recurring statement on this site, we note that C201 is a melting pot of devotional material across a wide denominational spectrum. For today’s thoughts, we’re taking you to the site, Catholic Daily Reflections: My Catholic Life. Click the header which follows to get there, where you’ll also find a video and audio for today’s reading.

Stewards of Earthly Riches

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’” Luke 16:1–2

There is much to ponder in this parable and many lessons from which we can learn. To begin, the rich man should be understood as God and you as the steward. This is an important first lesson to learn because it reveals to us that, when it comes to material things in this world, God is the true owner of all—we are only stewards. Think about that carefully. When it comes to all that you own, all your money and possessions, do you hold on to it as if you were the complete master of these material items?

Clearly most people do think this way. They may work hard to earn a living, save and buy this and that, build up their bank accounts, and then remain very attached to these material things, seeing them as “mine” rather than as God’s. So the first very challenging lesson we should look at is that all we “own” is actually the possession of God. He only permits us to be stewards of the things of this world. Do you believe that?

As stewards, we must be committed to use the riches within our stewardship only in the way that God wants it used. In this parable, the steward was reported to the rich man for “squandering his property.” We also are guilty of squandering the possessions of God when we use money in accord with our own will and desires rather than those of God’s. This is an exceptionally common tendency, especially for those who have become the stewards of much money. Therefore, the more money that one has stewardship over, the more they will be tempted to squander it, meaning, use it for selfish purposes rather than for the glory of God in accord with His will. This is a hard teaching to accept and live. But these truths are indeed revealed to us by this parable, so it is essential that we listen.

The words spoken by the rich man, “Prepare a full account of your stewardship,” are words that we must all anticipate hearing one day. If that day were today, what would that “full account of your stewardship” look like? Have you worked hard for selfish gain? Or have you worked hard to act with great responsibility over the things God has entrusted to your care?

As the parable continues, we read that the steward acted “prudently” in that he devised a plan to make sure his material needs were met once he lost his position as steward. The “prudence,” however, that is spoken of here is a reference to the worldly, and therefore, evil ingenuity, cleverness, hard work and commitment many people have regarding the material wealth they seek to obtain in this world. Though it is good to be diligent and hardworking in life, too often this is done for the purpose of selfish gain. Just imagine if everyone who worked so hard at getting rich put even more effort into building up the Kingdom of God on earth! How different this world would be if we had so many hard workers for God’s mission.

Reflect, today, upon the simple truth that when it comes to the riches of this world, you are only the steward of what you possess, not its master. God wants you free from the attachment to material wealth so that you will be free to use all that you have for His glory and in accord with His purpose. That does not mean that you must donate all you have to charities.

Instead, it means that you continually offer all that you have to God and seek to use it in accord with His will and His will alone. If that means you discern that God wants you to buy something new, then buy something new. If that means giving more away, then give more away. If that means living more simply as a holy sacrifice, then do just that. Money cannot buy happiness. Only embracing God’s will to the fullest will result in the happiness and fulfillment you deeply desire.

My Lord of all riches, You and You alone are the Master of all things created. All that I have and possess are Yours, dear Lord. Help me to believe this and to live my life purely as a steward of the possessions I have. Free me from squandering that which You have entrusted to my care. May I use all for Your glory and only in accord with Your holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.

July 13, 2021

Financial Security vs. Eternal Security

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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James.5.1.NIV Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.* You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

*Or yourselves as in a day of feasting

A year later, we’re checking back in with Meanderings of a Minister by Pastor Jack Jacob. This devotional study begins, “Have you ever taken the time to look at a dollar bill?” For our UK readers, think pound note, and in Europe think Euro note. Where he writes “401k” think pension scheme. Click the header which follows to read this at his site.

From Where Does Your Security Come?

Have you ever taken the time to look at a dollar bill? They really are not that remarkable. They are green and many are wrinkled. If you were to look at one under a microscope, you would find they are laden with all sorts of bacteria. There are reminders all over the bill that it is not really your property, but the property of the United States of America. They have reminders of their denomination. A dollar bill is not that remarkable. Did I say that already?

So, if the dollar bill is not that remarkable, then why is it that we tend to put our security in how many of them we have? Security is defined as freedom from danger, fear, and anxiety. Why do we think dollar bills can provide this? Why do we think we must even use the dollar bills of a credit card company to be happy? Why is it that we sacrifice our time, marriages and even health in pursuing them? Why is it that we want to build a house with them and clothe ourselves with them and yet come away feeling so empty? Maybe it is because we have forgotten where they come from and whose they are.

In James 5:1-6, James tells the rich people of his day (and yes, they were believers) that getting their security from their riches instead of finding their security in Christ would mean that their source of security would make them insecure. He says they should howl and weep because misery would come on them. Before we think that James just does not understand our circumstances, think of the rich farmer of Luke 12:16-21. He thought that he ought to tear down his barns to make room for the riches that were pouring in. Because he thought that his crops were his security, God called him a fool and his life ended the very night he was standing on the security he had chosen. When we think that riches are our security, we are putting ourselves in a precarious position at best. Just ask those that have lost their 401K’s to the failing stock market!

James goes on to say that placing our security in wealth will cause us to want to hoard it and keep it where it can be consumed by pests and where other things can become attached to those riches that make them not as flashy and brilliant as we thought they were in verses 2 and 3. In verse 4, he goes even further to say that our misunderstanding of where our security should come from will cause us not only to hoard it, but will also cause us to keep it from others. In this verse, James accuses the rich believers of withholding wages from those that had earned them. Psalm 37 reminds us that a fool borrows and does not pay back. For many of us that get our security from the wrong place, we tend to hold on to our money and not pay bills right away, or pay the minimum. We rationalize this by saying we are managing our money wisely, but the truth so often is that we are afraid that, if we pay our bills as soon as we receive them, we will not have money for something that might come up. If we pay more than the minimum due, we will not have enough for something else we might “need”. We have gotten our security from the wrong place.

Lastly, James warns his listeners that getting our security from the wrong place with both cause us to think that all we have is for us (verse 5) and can lead us into doing anything to get it (verse 6). I cannot tell you how many honorable people ended up in jail because they got their security from the wrong place. They never dreamed they would steal from the company, cheat on their taxes, or even break into someone’s house, but they needed money because they thought that was the source of their security. This is one of the problems with some folks who have bought into the health and welfare movement that is so prevalent in some churches today. Those that buy into this belief system have never really had a change in their security base. They have just gotten religious about how they will go about getting it. James warns that this will only lead to misery. We would do well to heed his warning.

So if money is not sufficient for security, then what is? Simply this: “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) Our security can only come from Him Who is the chief cornerstone in the temple of our Eternal Father. Place your faith, trust, and security in Him!


Bonus devotional: Sometimes it’s hard to choose among good articles. Here’s one by the same author; check out Protecting Your Testimony.

March 16, 2011

Francis Chan: Do Not Assume You Are Good Soil


…the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity…

The above quotation, and what follows below belong to Francis Chan.  I’m probably the last person in the world to finally get around to reading Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, but when a book finishes as the number one book for 2010 in most Christian bookstore markets, I think that we all need to sit up and take notice of what people are reading…

In the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that the seed is the truth (the word of God).  When the seed is flung onto the path it is heard but quickly stolen away. When the seed is tossed onto the rocks, no roots take hold; there is an appearance of depth and growth because of the good soil, but it is only surface level. When the seed is spread among the thorns, it is received but soon sufficated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures. But when the seed is sown in good soil, it grows, takes root and produces fruit.

My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil.

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all thorns.  Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions or commitments are piled on top of it.

Most of us, have too much in our lives.  As David Goetz writes, “Too much of the good life ends up being toxic deforming us spiritually.”  A lot of things are good by themselves but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God.

I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil.

-Francis Chan