“Scripture lays out a clear line between sinful materialism and godly stewardship of one’s possessions.” Perhaps not as clear a line as some would like. It requires thoughtfulness and careful examination of one’s motives, but the line is there, and it isn’t fuzzy.
A steward is one who manages someone else’s possessions. In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus told the parable of the unrighteous steward (or manager). He hadn’t been responsible with his employer’s assets, and was to give an account before being fired. Desperate, the failed manager scrambled to settle accounts with several of his employer’s debtors in their favor, hoping to win them as potential benefactors after losing his job. In the parable, the rich employer didn’t praise the steward’s dishonesty, but his shrewdness in understanding that wealth is simply a tool; that relationships are the greater wealth, and the surer path to security. The point of the story is to recognize wealth is a tool to advance the mission of the kingdom, not just the means to bring us pleasure and power. Jesus was quick to point out; the worldly often understand this better than the spiritual do. What a splash of cold water in the face!
“If it’s all God’s and I’m just a steward, do I act like it, or deep down do I really think it’s all mine?” Your possessions up to and including your own life are most surely not all yours! They are God’s, given to you to use for a brief span. The Parable of the Talents lays it all out easy to understand (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects you to use everything to glorify him and bear fruit unselfishly. It will require devotion, and many sacrifices, but in the end it will make you eternally rich. If you choose to use up God’s gifts on yourself, you will end up with eternal poverty and unimaginable suffering. Does God require me to handle my wealth (or the lack thereof) in a specific way in order to get to heaven? Maybe it would be better said that if you are heaven-bound you WILL handle your wealth in a way that pleases and honors God, but either way, the answer is yes!
Godly stewardship is a method of viewing possessions and money that results in using it unselfishly in pursuing the mission of the kingdom of God. It’s a worldview that follows recognizing the incompatibility of materialism with godliness (Luke 16:13). Remember, keeping your family well fed, clothed, and sheltered are necessities of life, nor is there necessarily any sin in driving a nice car, living in a decent house, and taking a family vacation every now and then. The clear line is in your soul. How do you view money? How much of yourself is consumed with getting it? How willingly will you part with it for a good cause? How often do you part with any considerable portion of it with zero selfish motives? What would you give it all up for? Your answers make the eternal destination you’re presently heading for very clear. You’d do well to think about them honestly.