Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
We rented a house at the beach last weekend and to put things mildly, I was on edge. I am always on edge when we find ourselves using other people’s places or property. I get nervous we are going to break something. I worry about spills. And so, I police my children, my wife, and myself. I hold us all to a ridiculously high standard. Touch nothing, break nothing, and spill nothing, I tell them. I catch the cheerios before they fall off the high chair. I keep the shoes lined up outside. I immediately sweep the house and move all breakable objects to the highest shelves.
When it comes to caring for someone else’s property, we have become accustomed to holding ourselves to a higher standard.
When I borrowed toys as a child, my parents always told me to: “treat it as though it was your own.” I tell my children something different: “Remember! That. Is. Not. Yours. Treat it as though it belongs to someone else.”
For me, caring for someone else’s belongings carries with it a greater responsibility. In scripture that responsibility is called stewardship. Stewardship is how we care for and maintain the things that do not belong to us. It is how we manage everything that has been entrusted to us. But what, friends, have we been entrusted to care for? What are the things around us that we are called to care for because they belong to someone else?
The biblical response to that is quite simple… everything. We own nothing. We have been gifted everything. From a young age we are taught to keep track of what is ours. Mine, children (and grownups) shout at one another. Over time, this way of thinking leads us to fail to realize that we are borrowing everything. Like the saying goes, you can’t take it with you when you go. At some point, all of the things we think are ours will be in the care of someone else. In that sense, we are borrowing everything.
And so, we are called to manage not manipulate. We are called to serve our neighbor not starve them. We are called to exercise stewardship and not domination over the world around us. We are called to treat that which fills our lives with an understanding that it is not ours, but rather someone else’s. And that realization ought to open our eyes to the humbling reality that we are called to be careful, cautious, and diligent stewards.
In Psalm 24 the Psalmist declares: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all of its people belong to God.” In short, everything is God’s. We own nothing. We are borrowing everything. All of the things that surround you – up to and including your very self – belong to God. God is calling us to be faithful stewards of all of it.
As you come to see all of those things that fill your life not as your own, but as a gift from God may your heart swell with gratitude. And may that gratitude become generosity as you exercise faithful stewardship of those many gifts. As I tell my children and myself: Remember, that is not yours. Treat it as though it belongs to someone else. Through our stewardship may we all hear some day from the owner of all things: Well done, good and faithful servant.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.