This devotional is one day of a 365 days devotional book entitled Living Hope for the End of Days that explores Revelation, the final book of God's Word; and is available at www.dtbm.org
Giving God What Is His
(Revelation 18; 2 Peter 3:10-18)
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you learn to avoid materialism
and give God what is His in this life!
THURSDAY: Giving to God What Is His
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Emphasis added).
As we learned last week, God owns all things whether we recognize it or not. But life becomes much clearer, and in some respects much easier, when we consciously and continuously choose to recognize it. Have you invited Him to be what Scripture says He is—the Creator, Owner, and Controller of your family, your possessions, your money, and you? And have you extended the invitation again after you have taken things back into your own hands? This self-surrender to God is the beginning of true stewardship and thus the end of being ensnared by materialism.
True Biblical Stewardship: From a proper view of God’s ownership comes true biblical stewardship. If we belong to God, then we recognize that we are not owners, but stewards. Unless you travel on cruise ships you probably don’t see many stewards. The term is not a common one used in our vocabulary. A steward was someone that a wealthy person had in their household who took care of their goods for them. There was never a thought that the steward was the owner or master. A steward was a slave or servant who was responsible for oversight of his master’s possessions. Believers are stewards, slaves of their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, which is wonderful to be.
Stewardship is the giving of ourselves without reservation to the Lord. In fact, one of the conditions of discipleship is that we be a steward of Jesus for life. Early in my ministry I met a ninety-year-old pastor who was a true steward of God. After I got to know him I discovered the secret of his long and fruitful ministry—he had distilled life down to three points: 1. unrivaled love for Jesus, 2. unceasing cross bearing, and 3. unreserved surrender. Let’s go over each of these points so that you will better understand the heart of a steward.
Stewardship is unrivaled love for Christ. In Luke 14:25-26, large crowds were traveling with Jesus. These people were there for every reason: some had been healed, a few were raised from the dead, some had been fed by Jesus, and others just liked the show. So He turned to them and said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (v. 26).
That seems like a contradiction: we are not to hate, are we? No, Jesus meant this: “If you compare the love you have for Me to the love for your family and relatives, the two cannot stand side by side. Your love for Me should be so great that the difference between the two is like love and hate.” He would never tell us to hate our family, but that our love for Him is to be so great that it appears that we do. The first part of being His steward and His disciple is that we have unrivaled love for Him. Nothing else can be on the same shelf. Many Christians claim, “Christ is first in my life,” and then put Him up there on a shelf along with everything else.
Jesus warned that our relationship with people, the world, and possessions can rival our love for Him. So He said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). If what your mother and father think causes you to disobey Christ, you are not worthy of Him. I am glad Jesus said that; those may be “fighting words” to some, but that is the unrivaled love that Christ demands from us as His disciples.
All this deals with the affections of our heart. Jesus said, “If you claim to love Me, but the love you have for Me is not unrivaled, you can’t be My disciple.” Do the affections of your heart reflect Jesus Christ in this manner?
Stewardship is unceasing cross bearing for Christ. Jesus has already made the standard so high that it is out of reach of everybody except by the power of God. Yet, He doesn’t stop with unrivaled love. He continued by saying, "Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. … And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Luke 14:27; Matthew 10:38). In other words, Jesus did not stop with the affections of our hearts—He said there must also be unceasing cross bearing, which deals with our conduct in life.
Frances Ridley Havergal wrote the lines to a song we so often sing without due seriousness and commitment. It is a matter of record that this hymn was autobiographical, and I believe it well expresses the nature of cross-bearing. In the third stanza she wrote: Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
Jesus wants us to give Him our all! Are you unceasingly bearing your own cross? Discipleship doesn’t stop there, however. In Luke 14:33 Christ is still laying down the ground rules.
Stewardship is unreserved surrender to Christ: "… Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). Christ is in the same breath, the same setting, talking to the same people. He already told them they had to love Him more than anything else, and then He told them they had to take up a cross, which meant death to self. His next qualification for a disciple is the requirement to forsake all for Him. This deals with personal possessions.
Jesus has the right of disposal. It is not our money or our life, because both belong to God. Discipleship is not about thinking: I’ll give God His 10 percent, and then the rest is mine. If you keep the rest for yourself, you are keeping 90 percent of God’s money—because He owns it all. Instead, you are to be a steward of the Lord’s money, which should always be at His disposal.
Henry Parsons Crowell, the founder of the Quaker Oats Company, gave away 96 percent of his income and lived on just 4 percent. It doesn’t matter which percentage is involved, however, as all of it is God’s. You don’t get a ribbon if you give more because Jesus says it is all His anyway. He is the Owner, and we are only employees. Christ therefore asks that He be above all our treasures on earth, whether money or possessions. For Jesus has said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). The man He spoke to went away sadly. Why? Because he said what so many people say today: “God, You can have my voice, my body sometimes, my time now and then, but you are not going to have everything.” But Jesus says, “If I can’t have everything—I don’t want anything.”
A true disciple humbly acknowledges this truth: “Everything I have comes from You—and belongs to You.” Such an attitude changes us from thinking in terms of how much of my money should I give to how much of His money should I keep!
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.