From beginning to end, Scripture repeatedly emphasizes God’s ownership of everything:
Search and you won’t find a single verse of Scripture that suggests that God has surrendered his ownership to us. God didn’t die and leave the earth—or anything in it—to me, you, or anyone else. And if we should think, Well, at least I own myself, God says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
When I’ve taught from 1 Corinthians 6 in a college class, I have asked someone in the front row to lend me his pencil for a moment. When he handed me the pencil, I immediately took it, broke it in half, threw it on the ground and crushed it under my foot. The reaction of the students was shock and disbelief. What right did I have to break someone else’s pencil? But then I explained that it’s really my pencil, which I planted with that person before the session. Suddenly everything changed. If it was my pencil, but only if it was mine, then I had the right to do with it as I pleased—which is precisely Paul’s point in his letter to the Corinthians. The believers in Corinth were doing what they pleased. And why not? They thought their lives were their own. But Paul says, “No, it’s not your life. You own nothing, not even yourself. When you came to Christ you surrendered the title to your life. You belong to God, not to yourself. He is the only one who has the right to do what he wants with your life—your body, your sexual behavior, money, possessions, everything.”
God doesn’t just own the universe. He owns you and me. We are twice his—first by creation, second by redemption. Not only does God own everything, but he determines how much of his wealth he will entrust to us:
“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up” (1 Samuel 2:7, NKJV).
“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things” (1 Chronicles 29:12).
Stewardship is living in the light of these overriding truths. It’s living with the awareness that we are managers, not owners; that we are caretakers of God’s assets, which he has entrusted to us for this brief season here on earth. How we handle money and possessions demonstrates who we really believe is their true owner—God or us.