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WE ARE ONLY ON LOAN TO OURSELVES – AT ALL TIMES WE REMAIN GOD’S PROPERTY

17 Jul

We are not our own

“We all are familiar with the concept of stewardship, of responsibility of another’s property which may be entrusted to our care. The manager of a chain store is the steward of the corporation which owns the store. The corporation’s board of directors are the stewards of the stockholders. A banker is the steward of his depositors and a pastor of his parishioners.

The obligation of a steward is to administer wisely the property which is entrusted to his care. He must guard it vigilantly, use it prudently and keep always in mind the best interests of the owner.

There are few of us who do not find ourselves in a position of stewardship

There are few of us who do not find ourselves in a position of stewardship, at least some times and at least in some small matters. It is to our credit that most of us do discharge conscientiously our duties of stewardship. There are frauds and embezzlements, true enough. But it is only because such betrayals of trust are exceptional that they rate newspaper headlines.

Our obligations of stewardship to God

We understand clearly and take seriously the obligations of stewardship as far as our neighbour is concerned. It seems somewhat surprising, therefore, that we pay so little heed to our duties of stewardship as far as God is concerned.

We acknowledge readily enough our indebtedness to God for all that we are and have. We never would question for a moment the fact that we owe to God our existence, our religious faith, our physical and mental endowments and all that is good and desirable in our lives. We are decently grateful to God, and pray that He will continue to bless us with His loving care.

Too few of us, however, develop a functioning realisation of our stewardship to God. Freely admitting all that He has done for us, we still do not operate on the recognised premise that we belong to God, in ourselves and in all that we are and have.

We shall be called upon to give God an account

We are not our own. We remain God’s absolute property. We are only on loan to ourselves. When we finally face God in judgment, it will not be to give an account of our gift. Usage has hallowed that expression, but strictly speaking there have been no gifts, only investments. In judgment we shall be called upon to give God an account of the dividends, in love and service, which His investments have garnered in our hands.

The unawareness of our role of stewardship shows itself in a hundred ways. For example, we often say (or think) ‘I owe it to myself to do this’, when the real basis of our decision should be, ‘I owe it to God to do this.’ Similarly we ponder, ‘How much can I afford to spend?’ or, ‘How much can I afford to give?’ when a more precise question would be, ‘How much of His money would God want me to shell out here?’ A still better question would be, ‘How much of His money would God want me to spend on myself while others lack enough to eat?’

Much of the loose writing and talking that is done concerning sex, in and out of marriage, stems from the forgetfulness of God’s ownership rights. The power of procreation has been entrusted to us by God to be used for His purposes. He has not abandoned His dominion over that power. The recommendations of sociologists, physiologists, physicians and psychologists can be valid only to the extent that they recognise God’s proprietary rights.

The power of procreation has been entrusted to us by God to be used for His purposes

God certainly wills the enhancement of His property. To put it more conventionally, God certainly wills the good of His beloved creature, man. But it is the good as God sees it and the good which God wants, which must be sought.

The development of a sense of stewardship will make our lives more fruitful

The development of a sense of stewardship will make our lives more meaningful, more fruitful. Almost always we are more careful with the property of another than we are with our own. If we see ourselves, our possessions, our health, our time and our talents as really belonging to God, there will be much less waste and misuse than when we see ourselves as the absolute master of our assets and resources.

It will make quite a difference, too, in our final accounting.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, One Step Enough, 1966

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