Friday, June 1, 2007

This Is My Father's World

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears,
All nature sings, and ‘round me rings
The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought.
Of rock and trees, of skies and seas-
His hands the wonders wrought

This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done,
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.
Maltbie D. Babcock

What a great need we have in the Church today to recognize that simple principle which we sing about so often, this is my Father’s world. Everything we possess, see, and understand in this world actually belongs to God because He is the creator and sustainer of all things. Were it not for Him there would be nothing physical, including ourselves. The Psalmist said in Psalms 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell there in.” The things which we control, we control only because God has allowed us to have control of them. This ranges from physical blessings such as our homes and cars to spiritual blessings such as the gospel, control of our time, and the direction of our steps.
Stewardship is the term for this principle of God allowing man to control those things which are His. We are stewards in the creation of our Lord. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines a steward as “one who has the management or oversight of another’s property” (440). We are given the responsibility to manage and have oversight over the Lord’s property. Our eternal destiny rests on how well we handle these things. Perhaps no passage of scripture better illustrates this principle than the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus tells of a man who had three servants. Before he traveled to a far country, he gathered his servants together and gave each of them a portion of his possessions. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. The two servants who had received five and two talents each went out and doubled their possession, but the servant who had received only one talent hid his money in the ground. When their Lord returned, they each presented their talents to him. The two servants who had used their talents to double them were told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things, enter into the joy of your Lord” (vs 21, 23). Unfortunately, the servant who had not properly used his talent was told by his lord, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed...And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 26-30). Jesus goes on in Matthew 25 to make the point that this is representative of the scene which will be played out on the day of Judgment when the nations will be divided as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. The righteous will inherit the kingdom prepared for them (vs. 34), and the unrighteous will inherit the everlasting fire prepared for them (vs 41). There are many lessons which could be drawn from this passage, but two speak loudly. First, we must use wisely the things which our Lord has placed in our control. Second, not to use the things the Lord has given us is just as wrong as to misuse those things.
We must remember that we are merely stewards of God in regard to everything we have. A fraction of the complete concept of stewardship deals with our money and what we do with it. Do we spend our money wisely? Do we spend our money on good things? Do we spend our money on evil things? Do we support good works or only our own desires? These are just a few of the questions one might ask himself about his practice of Godly stewardship. To understand that the money we work so hard for and treasure so much in our lives is actually God’s possession which He allows us to use is to understand something that a majority of those in our society miss. The prophet Haggai taught this principle as he spoke to a people who had been blessed greatly. The Lord’s words are recorded in Haggai 2:8, “‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Open your wallet, open you bank accounts, open your portfolios. Before you say, “This is mine,” say, “This is the Lord’s!” Stewardship is not doing something for God with my money. The Biblical idea of stewardship is doing something for others with God’s money.