I bought a new truck, which happens to be the first brand-new vehicle I’ve ever owned. I keep it clean inside and out. I’ve trained my two-year-old son how to wipe bugs off the bumper. I’m easy on the brake and slow on the accelerator. I park in the shade but never under tree limbs. Why? I have practical reasons, of course. Namely, I want to keep this truck for a long time. But I also have a deeper motivation. As R.C. Sproul has said:
The whole concept of stewardship begins with creation. Creation is celebrated not only in Genesis but throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms, where Israel celebrated God’s ownership of the whole universe. “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). God is the author of all things, the Creator of all things, and the owner of all things. Whatever God makes, He owns. What we own, we own as stewards who have been given gifts from God Himself. God has the ultimate ownership of all of our “possessions.” He has loaned these things to us and expects us to manage them in a way that will honor and glorify Him.
God gifted my wife and me the ability to purchase our truck. If I were to mistreat or neglect it, I would be guilty of ungratefulness and poor stewardship. I feel the same about my house, yard, clothes, and every other material gift from God. If he entrusted us with it, we should care for it and use it wisely.
Meanwhile, I keep the parable of the rich fool in mind. Jesus said:
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Material things are worth only so much. Christ taught:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19, 20)
My wife accused me of having a degree of nerdiness when I showed her my car cleaning supplies. For the record, I’m not that nerdy. I don’t even shine the tires after a wash. Regardless, I haven’t forgotten that I’m fighting a losing battle. Rust will destroy my truck sooner or later. Thieves may steal it. For all I know, the car wash could malfunction, ruining the paint or scratching the fenders. I’d chuckle at the irony, though probably not right away.
We should be thankful for God’s material gifts, stewarding them well, but we must hold on to them loosely. Ultimately, they can’t last. Enjoy them while they’re here. Be content in Christ when they’re not.