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Jesus Only . . . our source of provision for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom

Everything we have belongs to God. We are only stewards. 1 Chron. 29:14

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It sounds like an impossible standard, and it doesn’t seem fair: “. . . sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21). The rich young man hardly expected this. After all, what did he have to “prove” about himself? He could say about the commandments, “All these I have kept” (v. 20). When he began the conversation with a self-laudatory question—“‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’” (v. 16)—he must have expected a commendation from the itinerant rabbi: “Oh, you have done more than enough good! If anyone is deserving of eternal life, certainly you are!”

Instead, he received a challenge to lay aside everything that defined who he was. Here is a call to leave all for the sake of Jesus.

But isn’t that what discipleship is all about? Didn’t the Lord say, “. . . any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”? (Luke 14.33). Doesn’t Paul speak of himself as the bond slave of the Lord Jesus? Didn’t our Lord set the example when He laid down His life—for us? Hasn’t our heavenly Father determined the cost when He gave His only-begotten, His beloved, to die in our place for our sins?

A core value of The Christian and Missionary Alliance is Everything belongs to God. We are only stewards. We cite 1 Chronicles 29:14 as a supporting text, a verse that reminds us that whatever we bring as an offering to the Lord is but the gift that He Himself has placed in our hands. We can’t “give” anything to God. He is the giver of every good thing (James 1:17). “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).

Therefore, we understand that stewardship is less about giving than about obedience. It is less about blessing God than about offering our total being as a sacrifice of praise. It is less about honoring Him than it is about acknowledging that we exist only for Him, His glory and the ultimate advance of His Kingdom and accomplishment of His purpose. He created us for a reason, and He has given us the opportunity—through a right assignment of our worldly goods—to partner with Him in the fulfillment of all He has ordained for the world He has made. What a privilege! What an awesome and humbling responsibility!

The story of the rich young ruler is an incredible “object lesson” that teaches us the proper paradigm for such obedience. He has kept all the commandments, but the result is a trust in self rather than in the Lord. Now it is time to lay aside everything for the sake of Jesus. It’s time to “kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:12) so that his true loyalty and unqualified devotion might be manifest. And the young man can’t do it.

He goes away sorrowful. Why? “Because he had great wealth” (Matt. 19:22). That is, he possessed so much of what really mattered to him that he finds himself incapable of bringing it to the feet of the Master. It was given to him—it isn’t really his—but when the Master announces His claim, the rich young man can’t release his grip.

There is reason to be sad but not because the standard is impossible. This young man was right at the threshold of greatness. He stood at the storehouse door, the fount of every blessing, and he elected to retain the paltry sum of what he imagined was his own instead of exchanging it for the life and promises found only in our Savior.

That’s always the test—and the provision—encompassed in the call to biblical stewardship: Will we give up what is not ours anyway so that we might obtain what can be ours by God’s grace only? Will we dare to resign ourselves to the limitless mercy and abundant resource of a mighty and loving God?

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