Monday March 20, 2023
IF YOU WORSHIP IT WILL ALL BE YOURS
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
The second temptation of Jesus in the wild ends with a punchline. That punchline is ownership. “It will all be yours.”
I imagine that Jesus heard a verse in his mind, from Israel’s prayer book, the book of Psalms, at that very moment. “The earth is the Lord’s,” said the writer of Psalm 24:1, “and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
You’ve probably heard the idea that we are not owners in this life; rather, we are stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Like me, you’ve probably entertained it for many years, especially if you were taught about money from a biblical perspective. And many of us, including me, have agreed and aspired to this idea to one degree or another.
But Jesus didn’t have these degrees of latitude as an option, as we often think we do. Jesus knew that it was not all his, nor was it all his to own. He saw the world belonging to his Father and to imagine it belonging to himself, rather than to his Father, was repulsive.
What if we began, as followers of the way of Jesus, to resist language that proclaimed ultimate ownership—of our cars, our homes, our money, our work, or even our families—and chose the language of stewardship in its place? How would our minds and perspectives change slowly over time? How would we treat the resources now flowing through our hands, rather than finding their resting place in us?
The Milky Way, the stars, the skies, the mountains, the fields, and the relationships all around us belong to the Lord. For that reason, they are gifts given to us to share joy in, to freely distribute to others, and to delight in and pass on that delight to others.
It is good to know the Lord takes care of what he owns, that we don’t have to worry and fear. What the Father owns he provides for and shares with us. We don’t need to own the things the Father already does.
We don’t need it to all be ours. In fact, it’s better if it’s not, because often what comes, goes; what lives, dies; what starts, finishes. In those moments we can be thankful for what runs through our hands and hearts, but ultimately goes back to the Father.
How have you used the language of ownership in your own life, and how would shifting to the language of stewardship change your perspective on sharing what you have?
Lord of the Wild, we choose to begin to use the language of stewardship going forward, acknowledging that you own all things and have our deepest concerns in mind. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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