When it comes to the responsibility of handling money, the Bible shows us a clear division: God has a part, and we have a part. It really is that simple.
In other words, the Lord has retained certain responsibilities and delegated others to us. Most of the frustration we experience in handling money grows out of our difficulty in determining which responsibilities are ours and which are His.
When the captain of an 1800s sailing vessel found himself in the open sea with no view of land, he depended on determining due north to keep his bearing and reach his destination. At night, he would locate the North Star and use it to maintain his course. He zeroed in on that North Star as if his life, his ship and all the souls on board depended on it, because they did.
Our North Star, when it comes to handling money, is understanding God’s Part. If you miss it, then every other financial decision you make is correspondingly skewed.
There are several facets to God’s role, but the most foundational one is His ownership.
The Lord is the Creator of everything. “For by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible… all things have been created through Him and for Him… and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). The Lord not only created everything, but also holds everything together. And by the way, He has never transferred the ownership of His creation to people.
Whether you realize it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, the Lord owns all your possessions. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1, emphasis added). “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord…” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
How much do you own? NOTHING! ZERO!
When we acknowledge God’s ownership, every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. Instead of asking, “Lord, what do You want me to do with my money?,” the question becomes, “Lord, what do You want me to do with Your money?”
When we have this perspective and handle His money according to His wishes, spending and investing decisions are equally as spiritual as giving decisions.
Recognizing God’s ownership is key to allowing Jesus Christ to become the Lord of our money and possessions.
Is it easy? Of course not. Nobody said it would be! Consistently recognizing God’s ownership is difficult. It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of making an intellectual assent to God’s ownership without letting that truth filter down into the nitty-gritty of daily life—especially because our culture constantly trumpets an opposing view.
Everything around us—the media, even the law—says that what you possess, you and you alone own. Genuinely acknowledging God’s ownership requires nothing less than a total change of perception, But the contentment, freedom and peace that accompanies embracing God’s ownership is priceless.
What’s next? Read “The 5 Pillars.” It’s the foundation for starting your financial discipleship journey.
Howard Dayton is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Compass – finances God’s way.
Howard graduated from Cornell University and served two and a half years as a naval officer. He developed a railroad-themed restaurant in Orlando, Florida, and began commercial real estate office development in 1972. But after a business partner challenged him to study the Bible to discover what God teaches about handling money, Howard’s life was profoundly changed.
He is the founder of Compass—Finances God’s Way and author of five books and six small group studies. Since beginning in ministry, he has served as a full-time volunteer and has led more than 75 small groups
Howard married Beverly in 1971, and had two children and four grandchildren before she went Home to be with the Lord. In 2019, Howard remarried. He and his wife, Lynn, reside in Central Florida and Charleston, South Carolina.