Ownership vs. Stewardship

I ended up in Mark 12 the other day, reading again the parable of the vineyard tenants. You know the one, a man planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug a vat and built a watchtower. Then he rented it out to tenants and went away on a journey. At harvest time, he sent a servant to collect his portion of the fruit. The tenants beat and sent away empty that and every other envoy from the owner. Then the man sent his son, but the tenants plotted to kill him so they could keep the vineyard themselves. (Mark 12: 1-8)

Yes, a story about the Pharisees, but it struck me on this reading as a warning to us as well. You see, the tenants forgot (or chose to disregard) the difference between ownership and stewardship. In this story, the man, who represents God, built and planted the vineyard. He created it from the ground up. The tenants only responsibility was to care for the crops and bring in the harvest. That’s it. They had to steward it. Nothing in that place was of their creation. They didn’t own a thing–not the land, not the buildings, not the plants, and not the harvest.

This same principle applies in so many places of our lives, but it struck me that I should heed this warning especially in regard to my children. God created them. He gifted them. He has a plan for their lives. I’ve  just been the tenant in their vineyard, watering and weeding and helping them to grow. And while I get the joy of harvesting some of the fruit of that crop, it isn’t mine to keep. It belongs to the One who created them in the first place.

I don’t own my children, I steward them for the Lord. Remembering that makes it easier when the time comes for them to live under their own stewardship, answerable to their Creator, not to me.

6 comments on “Ownership vs. Stewardship

    • Right there with you, Leslie! It’s freeing, actually, to realize they aren’t ours but we get to enjoy them. Just more of the extravagant grace of God!

    • So happy to hear that, Wendy! It’s definitely a life-long lesson, one more poignant to me now that my children are (almost) all adults.

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