Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 12, 1967
NUMBER 23, PAGE 10b-11a

No, It's Not Your Own

Wm. E. Wallace

"My life is my own, I'll do with it exactly as I please." Have you ever made such a statement? I suspect you have. You probably made it while under pressure of parents, friends, or companions who sought to direct you in ways contrary to your liking. Perhaps other situations aroused your independent disposition and you uttered some such declaration of personal liberty.

But your life doesn't belong to you, to use as you please. God made you, Christ saved you, and you are sustained by the Holy Spirit working through the word. You must give account to God, someday, regarding how you have used or spent your life. So it seems your life is not your own to do exactly as you please.

We must learn the lesson that God is the sole owner of all things including our lives (neut. 10:14, I Cor. 10:26). That which we call our own is really God's. Man is a steward of that which belongs to God. Our lives must be lived on the principle of stewardship. Of stewardship someone said, it "may be compared to the battery of an automobile, which is meant not to store up power for itself but to give its energy for the benefit of other parts of the car."

Luke 16 is the place where the more prominent or best known teaching on stewardship is found. Here we have the parable of the Dishonest Steward. But the key text on stewardship is I Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." The Parable of the Dishonest Steward teaches that the distinctive quality of good stewardship is faithfulness, seeking to give the best possible service to the owner.

Someone observed that the word "my" on any man's lips is a misunderstanding. Traditionally, we have frowned on the expression "my church" when used by anyone other than Christ. The church belongs to Christ and everything else belongs to God. We have been put here as stewards, not owners. We are God's agents. We must not make the mistake of the rich fool in Luke 12. He thought life's work was one of hoarding for personal pleasure and security. Not recognizing the principle of stewardship he left God out of his life, and his fellow man too. He was a fool, the record says. Our accomplishments and successes are trusts, not possessions.

Do you remember I Peter 4:11? You probably remember it as the place where is found, "If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God." But it says more: "...if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth..." Even our abilities belong to God. Some may have greater abilities than others, but they belong to God. These things are tools for service, not rewards or prizes. They are not for self-satisfaction or self-indulgence, but for service and devotion to God's will.

I cannot think of but one thing we do not owe to God - sin. Sin didn't come from God, he doesn't own it, doesn't want us to have it, and seeks to help us escape from it. Sin threatens the very essence of stewardship in our lives. We must not let sin reign in our mortal bodies. It will destroy our usefulness as stewards.

A steward is "an official who controls the affairs of a large household, overseeing the service at the master's table, directing the household expenses on behalf of the master." He is the manager of an estate. He may be a tenant or an agent. The original meaning of the word was that of a ward of the sty, a keeper of pigs. Joseph was a steward in Pharaoh's government and he had a steward of his own (Gen. 43:19; 44:4). Eliezer was Abraham's steward (Genesis 15: 2). The kings of Israel had stewards (I Kings 16:9). Various New Testament parables like Pounds (Luke 19), Talents (Matt. 25), Unjust Steward (Luke 16), Rich Farmer (Luke 12) illustrate the stewardship principle.

Bishops are said to be stewards of the affairs of God (Titus 1:7). Paul was a steward of God's "mystery" (I Cor. 4:1-2). Christians are stewards (I Peter 4:10). There is much more. Stewardship is a leading thought throughout the Bible.

We had best learn the lesson of stewardship, and learn to live accordingly. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;" (Job 1:21) "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.'" (I Tim. 6:7)

There is so much unemployed talent, unused wealth, idle time and neglected opportunity! Like books gathering dust on library shelves!

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