Contentment & Stewardship

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A renowned US President has said, “You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.” Our society has unequivocally embraced this ideology. “Believe in yourself,” we are told. “Live life on your terms.” Can the disciple of Christ live by these maxims? Is this worldview compatible with Christ’s command to take up your cross and follow Him?
Contentment means “the quality or state of being satisfied with one’s possessions, status or situation.” Contentment is choosing to be at rest with who I am - at peace with who God has made me to be. Stewardship is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
Why do we present Contentment and Stewardship as twin virtues? Are these principles even connected? I propose that both Contentment and godly Stewardship spring from the same worldview. They both result from accepting and believing four basic truths.
First, God is the Origin of all things. He created this earth with its incredible bounty of resources. The splendor and abundance of nature come from His hand, with Genesis details how God brought it into existence. The Psalms illustrate how God continues to provide for the cattle on the hills, the beasts of the forest, and the creatures of the deep. (Psa 50:10; 104:29-30). He owns the unfathomable riches of the mines and holds the immeasurable treasures of the oceans. The trillions of dollars in man's banking systems spring from the abundance of our Creator.
Second, God is Sovereign in the affairs of man. When looking at the broad stroke of history, we easily see God’s hand arranging events. Daniel 4:17 tells us that God is actively involved in appointing the rulers of nations. But on a personal level, has God really drafted the circumstances of my life? Who arranged for Moses to be adopted into a life of power and prestige? Who decreed that Daniel would be taken hostage at a tender age? Who chose for the man in John 9 to be born blind? When we read each story in its entirety, it is obvious: God did. He accomplished eternal purposes in the lives of these chosen men. But, what about my life? Has God ordered the minutiae of my life with just as much purpose?
He has. We tend to reason that material success or failure is the outcome of personal ambition. The carnal man proclaims that his empire results from his good decisions. He says, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." From his perspective, success is nothing more than the natural law of sowing and reaping—this is a single-dimension perspective of a 3-dimensional picture. The Christian attempts to view the events of his life from God’s perspective. Can he surrender the control of his life to Christ and then attribute his success to his prowess? No, he will see the hand of God in every circumstance, good or bad. Deuteronomy 8:18 states, But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth. 1 Samuel 2:7 declares, The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” Clearly, God has arranged the circumstances in our success. It is also God who brings the misfortune of our calamity (Isa 45:7). Even the empires built by unregenerate man are at the disposal of the Almighty (Dan 4:25). As followers of the Lamb, we readily profess that the resources and opportunities in our hands were gifted to us by God and are therefore not our own.
When I choose to accept that the resources I have are what God has set aside for me, I will be content. My carnal nature envies my neighbor's abilities, success, and possessions. It seems unfair that I do not have what he does. Our human nature is bent toward discontentment. Yet, a discontented man makes a terrible steward. He pinches and grasps to add to his hoard when he has little. He gloats over his accumulation when he has much and employs it exclusively for his benefit. Either he puts it to work making more money, or he uses it to elevate his status in the community. A contented man, on the other hand, is a wise steward. He understands that his “ownership” is temporary. These resources are not his, and one day he will need to explain how he has used them. He cannot afford to be frivolous in his spending or careless giving. The contented man is not greedy for more since he will presently leave what he has for another. His sole purpose is to employ these goods to benefit their true Owner.
Third, our primary calling is to be the hands and feet of Christ. Since Christ returned to His Father, we are charged to live as He would. In Luke 16:9, Christ taught His followers to use their possessions to build relationships with unbelievers. The relationships built with earthly goods create opportunities to speak the eternal spiritual Truths. We are to be rich in good works, generous to those in need, and always ready to share (1Ti 6:17-19). The Christian is also called to be a living sacrifice for the cause of the Gospel. Does this mean he will live in poverty? It may mean that. Christ required the pious young man in Luke 12 to sell all he had to secure eternal life. This young man quickly understood the grip that possessions had on his life. Christ may call you to make the same decision: Things or the Kingdom of God. Will we prioritize corroding, tarnishing riches, or will we pursue wealth that will never decay?
The final truth is that each of us will stand before the Almighty to give a record of how we have invested His resources (Matt 25:19). He has complete knowledge of the circumstances He provided for us. He created our personalities and preferences. He provided us with the means that we find at our disposal. He crafted the mission He intended for us. He also comprehends the obstacles that we face. On that final day, the Judge of all the earth will pronounce righteous judgment to the question: What have you done with what I trusted to your care?