Timeless Truths Free Online Library | books, sheet music, midi, and more
Skip over navigation
Foundation Truth, Number 25 (Summer 2010) | Timeless Truths Publications
Holy Spirit

The Word of Truth

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”* (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Houses and Lands”

What should we do as good stewards of property?

There is a project now taking shape in this center whereby the activities to go on in the center will yield income for the ministry as well for the workers’ needs. Now, my major problem right now is whether to treat this project as a personal project, or as a church project. I want it to serve as a source of income for the Lord’s workers. So if I make it personal, my immediate blood family (sons and daughters) might come in, in the future, and take it over as a family business. If I register it in the name of the church and have it managed as such, there is danger of it turning into a movement’s business venture with its accompanying evils.


“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”* (Luke 16:8)

I feel greatly burdened about this subject. I perceive that if the children of light develop greatly in the wisdom of the children of this world, they lose something immensely valuable and irreplaceable. The wisdom from above (James 3:15-17) will teach us a different lesson than the wisdom from below.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”* (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

I notice that the apostle said nothing about shelter or property. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”* (Matthew 6:25) Houses and lands are mentioned in Mark 10:29-30, “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Notice the leaving of house or lands, then the receiving of houses and lands, with persecutions.

A picture begins to emerge, and this picture is entirely consistent with the life that Jesus lived while in the flesh. It is a picture of a human being who regards all the fleshly necessary things of life as a means to an end. When they no longer meet this end, they are to be discarded, or regarded as a thing of little worth in themselves. According to this thinking, the things of spiritual life are the invaluable contents of a beverage to be consumed and treasured, while the things of the physical life are like a paper cup—just a means to an end.

Many saints fail to walk in that blessed fellowship and intimate communion that their souls crave. They long to have Christ more real in their life. They yearn for a greater consciousness of His presence. But they come short of their soul’s cravings because they are not baptized fully into Christ’s death. They live too much to the flesh. They live too much for earthly things. They have too great an admiration for earthly things, a fine home, fine furniture, fine automobile. Look closely into the life of Christ. Not once did He ever manifest an admiration of the fine things of the world. He admired God in nature, but never admired nature of itself. If He admired the works of man, it was not what man had done, but what God had helped him do. In all His sight-seeing He never lost sight of God. This is a precious secret in the Christian life.

[Charles E. Orr; Helps to Holy Living, “Baptized into His Death”]

In Hebrews 11:13, we are told of the Old Testament saints, who “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Consider the weight of these words: “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

My wife and I took a long trip by car. We endeavored to live as cheaply as possible, so the rear seat of the car was basically a traveling kitchen. The car was filled with the necessities, including gospel literature and the ability to print it, in such a way that there was just room for the two of us. While on our trip, we observed an inviting rocking chair for sale. We were thousands of miles from home. The chair might have been something to acquire if we were home, but the only way we could have taken it then on the trip, was to tie it to the roof of the car. We were strangers and pilgrims on this trip; we were not at home. It would have been ridiculous to have gone about the country acquiring things for home; it would have been at cross-purposes with the entire point of the trip.

Now this is a spiritual lesson. Many people claim to be going to heaven. They profess to be pilgrims and strangers in this world, but they do not act as pilgrims and strangers. Their lives reflect rocking chairs and many other inappropriate things, all tied on and actually hindering the spiritual life. The wisdom from above will teach you to discard a lot of things; it will strip you for the race.

Not only is the accumulation of earthly things and a retentive attitude toward them destructive to your spiritual life, it is destructive to others, too. The estates, the fine things of this world, become a focal point to others. “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”* (Luke 12:13-15) Jesus went on to relate the story of the rich man, and concluded by saying, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”* (Luke 12:21)

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”* (2 Corinthians 4:18) This is a strong teaching for looking at eternal things, but it also teaches not looking at temporal things. If I receive food from a tin can, my attention is on the food. One can see right away that something is awry if I value the can equally, above, or anywhere close to how I value the food. The container, while needful at the time, is of small importance in the overall scheme of things, therefore I regard it not or deem it of transitory value.

In a certain locality of this country, a congregation of saints prospered spiritually for years. They acquired a chapel, a dining hall, land, etc., and they used these earthly things as a means to an end. They began to leave this life, one by one, and thus left all the means to an end, too. There were certain people in the community who did not serve the Lord as these others had done, but they highly respected the memory of the children of God, and they continued to pay the taxes on the property for many years. After over twenty years, it became evident that God was not raising up a work there again, and that they were clinging to the husks of the fruit of God. So great was their reverence for what had been among them, that they did not want to personally profit from the sale of the place, so they donated it to the government. It is a war memorial museum today. How do the saints feel about the matter?

“I’ll follow all the way, I’ll never, never stray,
This world no more can win my love;
I’ve left it all behind, more lasting joys to find,
My treasures all are stored above.”*

This is the attitude of a person whose eye is single, who regards all earthly possessions as only a means to an end, who knows that we will most certainly leave all of this behind. In the end, it will be burned up, along with all earthly things.

It is fleshly thinking to try to establish an earthly legacy of earthly things. As the wise man said, “Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun.”* (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)

Down here, nothing lasts.

“All in this world is dross;
Its pleasures soon decay;
Its honors prove a snare;
Its treasures fly away.”*

The perishable and slippery nature of earthly things should cause us to dispense with them as we do with perishable food. It can only be preserved so long, and if we are not able to preserve it, it must be given away or go to waste. I know of another chapel in another locality. This chapel was lovingly built by consecrated labor, but the saints who built it and worshiped there are long gone from this earth. The chapel is kept by descendants who have chosen not to live as those who lived before. The chapel deteriorates and rots year by year. It is just a chapel, just a means to an end, and that end appears to have been accomplished.

If the work of God requires a chapel or some other temporal thing, that thing may be needed beyond the lifetime of the one or ones who first acquired it. There is only one way to be sure of whether or not the means-to-an-end should be disposed of at any given point, and that is to ask the Master. That is just what a good steward should do. In Jerusalem, at a certain time, it was the will of God for most all of the saints to dispose of their houses and lands (Acts 4:34-35). At that time, for a while, the apparent use of the proceeds was to benefit the widows, etc. Any thinking person could see that the needs of widows, etc., would far outstrip the ability of those who gave. In other words, there would always be more needs than there would be those who would give all their property. The consumers would outnumber the producers, so to speak. But because the saints had an eye single to the will of God, they just gave and left the results with Him. Behold! The will of God was for most of them to be scattered by persecution and to go everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:1,4). They would have lost those houses and lands, anyhow, as well as the blessing that came from obeying the will of God.

God has a process of bestowing and taking away that will adjust us just right. We read of it in Genesis 26:12-22. Isaac dug once again the wells of his father, Abraham, and found that these wells were taken from him. He moved on and dug out other wells of his father. These, too, were taken from him. He moved on yet again. This time his adversaries did not bother him. It is plain that Isaac had his eyes on God, rather than God’s blessings. He trusted that God would make a way for him, and he kept trusting and starting over. In the end, God did make a way for him.

“God’s way is best; I will not murmur,
Although the end I may not see;
Where’er He leads, I’ll meekly follow,
God’s way is best, is best for me.”*

This sense of detachment from all earthly things, the means-to-an-end mentality, carries over into other things that are of time and place. A brother who was much used of the Lord finished his course and was taken from this world. Another brother was wondering, “Who will take the place of this brother?” And he was helped to realize that this ministry was finished. Another ministry might do some of the same things, but that would be another ministry. Elisha carried the mantle of Elijah, and both were prophets of the Lord, but Elisha’s ministry was not just a continuation of Elijah’s ministry. It was given of God, complete and whole in itself. It was built upon the one who went before in the same way that all truth is interconnected, in the same way that we are built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles who went before us. Let us keep our eyes on the Giver, rather than just His gifts.

Now, with respect to our own flesh and blood, the Bible tells us, “The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”* (2 Corinthians 12:14) This should be a matter of prayer for a godly parent. How much should be left (of what God has provided) for the children (perhaps unsaved), and how much should be disposed of right now? The steward is asking the Master what to do with what has been placed in his hand. A certain proportion rightfully belongs to your blood family unless the Lord forbids it. It is a matter of prayer just what I should leave behind of this world’s goods to those who are mine after the flesh, starting with my companion. With some of us, God will so strip us for the race, that our only inheritance to leave is godly living.

It is tempting to think that we can make it easier on the future generation of gospel workers by leaving facilities, money, etc., but I believe that we leave more than we know if we attempt to do so. We leave a lack of struggle. We bypass God’s process with the ones following, unless we leave it at God’s direction. Our God is so able that He can easily raise whatever is necessary for His children to do His will in any generation. God is not dependent on legacies. If we unwittingly doubt this by our actions, we give place to the devil, and the earthly things thus passed on become a temptation and a focal point for evil work. It may be, that at some point, the brass serpent should be discarded, although it has been used of God in the past. Only God is able to tell us what to do.

In conclusion, keep your eyes on God. Lean not to your own understanding. Acquire and dispose just as the Spirit of God would have you do. Keep everything on the altar. Whether everything is consecrated as it should be is always shown when the Master asks the steward to dispose of something. “And he said, take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”* (Genesis 22:2-3) This was the son for whom Abraham had given up Ishmael, but there was no hesitation in Abraham. He rose up early in the morning. His eyes were upon God. When Isaac, in his innocence, asked the piercing question, “Where is the sacrifice?” then Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”* (Genesis 22:8) We are told that Abraham trusted that God was even able to raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:19).

It would appear that you have one more well to dig out, dear brother. “Be not weary in well doing.”* (2 Thessalonians 3:13)