How Can We Keep a Loose Grip on Possessions?

Back in 2019, I was asked to join Kirk Cousins (quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, and former QB of the Washington Redskins) in doing a fundraiser for Holland Christian Schools, where he interviewed me about various topics close to both my heart and his. One great question he asked was, “How do you keep a loose grip on earthly possessions?”

The idea that our money and possessions belong to us, not God, is a dangerous misconception. Many of our problems begin when we forget that God is the Boss of the universe. But in fact, He is more than the boss; He is the owner.

From beginning to end, Scripture repeatedly emphasizes God’s ownership of everything: “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14). When I grasp that I’m a steward, not an owner, it totally changes my perspective. Suddenly, I’m not asking, “How much of my money shall I, out of the goodness of my heart, give to God?” Rather, I’m asking, “Since all of ‘my’ money is really yours, Lord, how would you like me to invest your money today?”

I believe the only way to break our grip on material things is first, to see ourselves as stewards that God has entrusted these money and possessions to, and second, to give. Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish the control, power, and prestige that come with wealth. At the moment of release, the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears, and I recognize God as owner, myself as servant, and other people as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.

I once loaned a new boom box to our church’s high school group. It came back beat-up and that bothered me. But the Lord reminded me it wasn’t my boom box—it was His. And it had been used to help reach young people. Who was I to complain? I also owned thousands of books that I valued highly. I loaned them out, but it troubled me when they weren’t returned or came back looking shabby. Then I sensed God’s leading to begin a church library. I started looking at the names of those who checked them out, sometimes dozens of names per book. By releasing the books, I was investing in other lives. Suddenly the more worn the book, the more delighted I was. My perspective totally changed.

Christ’s words were direct and profound: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). What we do with our possessions is a sure indicator of what’s in our hearts. Jesus is saying, “Show me your checkbook, your credit card statement, and your receipts for expenditures, and I’ll show you where your heart is.” What we do with our money and possessions doesn’t lie. It is a bold statement to God of what we truly value.

So put your resources, your assets, your money and possessions, your time and talents and energies into the things of God. As surely as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure.  May God’s people be liberated from money- and possessions-love, break the back of materialism through generous giving to the needy, and pursue the lasting pleasures found in knowing and serving Christ.

See more resources on money and giving, as well as Randy's related books, including Managing God's Money and Giving Is the Good Life.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries