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Merely Stewards


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Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.

—1 Chronicles 29:11

How should we think of property? In arguments with “Christian” socialists,* objecting to confiscation an redistribution of private property, I have been told, “It’s not yours—it belongs to God.” Which is true, as far as it goes. How, then, should we think of our possessions?

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We have them as stewards, entrusted by their master with his treasure, or goods, to dispose thereof to such persons, and for such uses, as he appoints. Thus we are frequently in Scripture represented as stewards, particularly Luke xii. 42. A steward has his master’s stores committed to his trust; he has them in his custody, and so far they are in his possession; he has power to dispose thereof according to his trust, and so he is said to be the ruler over the household, i.e., the disposer of things belonging to the family, ver. 44. And accordingly he makes use of, and employs what is in his hands: he provides and brings forth necessaries for the family, gives them their meat, &c. And so Abraham’s steward is . . . one wno runs to and fro to provide what is requisite . . . who brings forth necessaries out of the stores, Gen. xv. 2; but all according to his master’s order and appointment, Mat. xx. 8, Gen. xliv. 1. And no other has any right to take from him what is in his custody and possession, or to dispose thereof as he may, or to hinder him from so using or employing it. And so far, that which he, and no other, has right to possess and dispose and use, may be well said to be his; but it is not his to keep, or use as he list, as the steward in the parable found, Luke xvi. 1, and xi. 45, 46.

And even thus are things ours. The Lord has entrusted them in our hands, to dispose of them as he appoints, and use them as he has given us order, and no otherwise; because we have right to such a possession, disposal, and use of them, a right which no other can claim to the things in our trust; upon this account they are and may be called ours.

Or as an artificer’s tools, which he entrusts in the custody of his servant, so as he may dispose them most conveniently for his work, and use them for his service; another has no right to take them from him, or to use them without his leave. So far they may be said to be the servant’s tools. We are the Lord’s servants, and a servant is . . . his master’s tool. So are we, so are all our members and faculties, our Lord’s instruments; but he gives us them to be employed in his work, and used for his service, and none can justly hinder us from so employing them. So far they are ours; and other things which we possess proportionably, ours in trust, but the Lord’s in true propriety.

—David Clarkson, The Lord the Owner of All Things, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:378–379

* What, can’t a socialist be a Christian? Yes, I reluctantly agree, one can. Christians often believe and do many foolish things. But as a socialist, he is not behaving biblically, i.e. as a Christian. Therefore, “Christian socialist” being an oxymoron, I write “‘Christian’ socialist.”



Posted 2017·12·04 by David Kjos
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