Studies have well established that the consumption of antidepressants is much higher in so-called developed countries compared to regions that are less developed. It appears that wealth does not have a direct effect on happiness. Another troubling reality is that a majority of people in these countries define themselves as Christians. Many believers are enjoying and managing God’s blessings, but this does not prevent them from feeling depressed. So, how can we be happy stewards of God’s blessings.
Who Is a Steward?
The Bible is clear that God is the owner of everything (2 Chron. 20:11). The believer, in contrast to the atheist, knows that everything belongs to and comes from God. Hence, the life of every human being is God’s property.
God, in His grace, has delegated the management of His creation to humans (Gen. 2:15). The expression “take care of it” informs about the special relationship that exists between humans and the God of creation: humans are stewards on behalf of God. The Creator entrusted to humans His patrimony, and this implies accountability.
Which Divine Patrimony Is Humankind Managing?
David is thankful, and he bursts into praises of gratitude for the numerous and multifaceted legacy that he has received from God (Ps. 40:6). He insists that God’s gifts are too many to be counted. In this biblical passage, David refers mainly to the material possessions that God gave him. Looking back, David sees himself as the little shepherd boy, without consideration from his own family. But God had chosen him to be king. Through victory after victory, David extended his kingdom, and he now enjoys an abundance of wealth.
What are the undeserved gifts received from God? Time is foremost: 365 days in a year, 52 weeks per year, 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day—totaling 8,760 hours per year. This allotted time is tax free, and there is no prosecution for bad usage. Nevertheless, to educate His creatures in gratitude, God gave us 24 hours per week for rest. Marvelous grace!
Then comes nature and the environment, which fill us with joy. Here, too, the psalmist is right to declare: “What
is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Ps. 8:4; see also vss. 5-8). We often admire a beautiful sunset, listen to the melodious singing of birds, and contemplate the colorful display of the peacock at no cost.
How Does One Rejoice as a Steward?
It is by cultivating a spirit of thankfulness. David asks the following question in Psalm 8:4: “What is mankind?” Without despising his nature, he acknowledges that he has no merit in the sight of God. Everything he receives is a gift from God. He has brought nothing to the world at birth, and still God has filled him with His mercies. Hence, he has a grateful heart. This is followed by a deep and positive feeling that contributes to happiness. It is the same contentment mentioned by the apostle Paul: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12). Gratitude is key to happiness, whatever the amount of possessions entrusted to someone.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the value of a person is often measured by their material wealth, such as how many cars, properties, pairs of shoes, and employees they might have. All these things make us appear important to others. It is also common to think that we are blessed when God has given us a lot of “stuff.” The truth, however, is that possessions alone cannot make anyone happy.
How Do We Enjoy Abundance and Live Happily?
The aspiration of the rich young ruler was to be perfect. Jesus suggested to him an original strategy: “ ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ ” (Matt. 19:21). The young ruler had to free himself from his wealth in order to live an abundant life with Jesus. This is opposite to what we usually do. Jesus requested that the rich young ruler offload what was heavy—his materialism—and to trust and follow Him. He will take care of everything else. Jesus wants to provide freedom from the tyranny of materialism. The Owner of all, the One who makes us His stewards, invites us to distance ourselves from “things” in order to enjoy abundance and the joy of trusting in Him.
From all our acquired wealth, God asks us to trust Him by returning a tithe in response to His goodness. From our time, God requests a seventh so we will have a revitalizing rest in a depressed world. From the gift of nature, He invites us to marvel in gratitude and to lift our hearts in praise. This will make us happy stewards as our hearts will be filled with the abundance of Jesus.
* All texts are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.