The Biblical principle of ownership involves recognizing that all that we have or will have ultimately belongs to God, and that He has entrusted us with these resources and responsibilities to steward for His glory. As His stewards, by yielding our personal rights and expectations to Him, we are able to resolve irritations, anger, and worry related to our “things.”
Recognize That All Belongs to God
As the Creator of all things, God holds the certificate of ownership for all that is in the world, including the people in it. (See Psalm 24:1.) Christ’s ownership of His entire creation is emphasized in Colossians 1:16–17: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Those who have received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ are “doubly owned” by God, since Jesus purchased their redemption through His death and resurrection. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19–20).
Understand the Responsibilities of Stewardship
Along with the good gift of life, God gives resources to each person, including time, talents, relationships, and abilities. With every gift of God comes the responsibility to be a faithful steward of those resources. A steward is someone entrusted with valuable possessions of another, such as an estate, a dwelling, or even one’s children. God entrusts us to be stewards of His possessions. Whatever has been given to me for my use ultimately belongs to God, and I am simply a caretaker of His belongings. In all things, we are to fulfill our responsibilities as stewards for His glory. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:2).
Identify Personal Rights and Expectations
In all areas of life, we have personal rights and privileges—things we believe we deserve. Personal rights affect every facet of life: family, knowledge, health, reputation, schedule, future plans, relationships, money, clothing, music, activities, entertainment, and possessions.
Based on these perceived rights, we construct expectations of others and of circumstances. Because you are alive, you likely believe you have the right to be accepted as an individual, to express personal opinions, to earn and spend a living, to control your personal belongings, and to make your own decisions. You expect others to respect your rights and act in a way that fulfills what you think they or the situation should provide you.
Consequently, if we overlook God’s ultimate ownership of all things, we will begin to take a personal interest in seeing that our rights and expectations are fulfilled. We selfishly cling to those rights, rather than seeing them as privileges or blessings placed in our care by God, privileges that we might or might not have received!
When we don’t get something we think we deserve, we have “unmet expectations.” Our pride is wounded, and often we react with anger or worry. The next time you are angry or worried, stop and consider whether or not you are upset because something you expected did not happen. You may believe you had a right that was violated. As you think through the situation and determine the source of your frustration, you will likely identify the rights and expectations you are holding onto. Ultimately, we need to lay down our rights to what we think we deserve and give them back to God.
Yield Rights and Expectations to God
We can become so concerned about defending our rights and receiving all we expect, that we fail to properly and thoroughly steward, or take care of, what has been entrusted to us. This selfish focus will set us up for conflicts. “Only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10).
Only as we yield our rights to God, along with those expectations we attach to those rights, are we free to focus on fulfilling the responsibilities those rights and expectations carry with them. God is not as interested in giving us what we “deserve” as He is in our recognizing that He is the Owner of all things and that He is able to work all things together for good. He may choose to withhold something you expected to receive in order to help you grow in maturity or to reveal more of Himself to you. God wants our heart!
By yielding our rights to God, we can respond to life with patience and teachable hearts. The following actions will enable us to recognize God’s ownership in our lives:
Identify Your Personal Rights
Unresolved conflicts and irritations may indicate perceived rights that need to be relinquished. Consider areas of life where you have felt angry or worried. Discern your responsibilities in those areas, as well as the rights and expectations that you associate with them.
Yield Your Rights to God
Remember that God owns all things. Through the grace and strength God provides for you, embrace the responsibilities that He has entrusted to you and surrender to God the rights and expectations that accompany your responsibilities. This deliberate surrender of your rights and expectations frees those around you from the prison of your expectations and removes the grounds of many conflicts.
Transfer Your Ownership to God
Give your rights and expectations to God. Trust Him to take good care of what belongs to Him. Remember that, even if your hopes are not fulfilled, His goal is to work things together for good in your life.
Thank God for Whatever Happens
In Scripture, we are challenged to thank God in all things. When you surrender your expectations to God, you’ll have a new freedom to rejoice in all circumstances, knowing that God is in charge and that He will take care of you. Surrendering your rights and expectations to God opens a new capacity for gratitude in your life. After all, if someone does something for you that you are expecting, you may not feel obligated to express gratitude. However, if you are not expecting anything, you will be delighted and your gratitude will bless others.
Resolve Anger and Worry
Don’t be surprised if surrendered rights are tested. As you yield your rights to God, let go of your expectations, and focus on your responsibilities instead, you may find that challenges still come. But as you are growing in these areas, do not succumb to worry or fear. God will sustain you, and His grace will be sufficient in your time of need.
When irritations arise, let the negative emotions of anger and worry motivate you to discern if there is an area of life that you haven’t fully relinquished to God’s control. Respond to your irritations with patience, trusting God to work in the situation for your good and for His glory—to develop your character, lead you to new opportunities, and help you mature in Christ.