Living as Tenants

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). What then does it mean to live by this? The key to this is that it means we are tenants, not owners. Compared to modern western culture, this idea is rather foreign. In a cultural context where personal property rights are held in such high regard, it can be difficult to realize fully the implications of this. This verse demands a reordering of thinking. We do not render to God what is ours, but rather God has given to us from what is His…

This is not a renter relationship. I do not pay rent to God, thus giving me special rights to my apartment. God has shared freely what is His. I may receive my livelihood from God’s land, but I am a tenant, not a renter. This distinction is key. As a tenant, I am caring for the land, for the sake of its owner. Thus, the wealth of the land must be spent according to the owner’s wishes, not my own.

The proper acceptance of this is found in Job’s cry: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) Even in his wealth, Job recognized that it had been given by God, and it was his to give and to take. A proper response to this, is to handle wealth in a manner that: does not view gain and loss with an attitude of entitlement to “our wealth” and reflects the generosity we have been shown, by showing the same to those around us.”
Jacob Schurder in “Philosophy of Biblical Stewardship Paper” dated 29 June 2015 submitted for PT7054: Biblical Stewardship and Christian Generosity class at Torch Trinity Graduate University.

Jacob nails it when he depicts our role as tenants rather than owners or renters. In so doing he sets us on a trajectory of faithfulness that steers clear of entitlement thinking and leads us to reflect the generosity we have received. His use of the testimony of Job was spot on!

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