How to Have Everything and Own Nothing

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When I get something new, I have a little ritual.  I grab a pen or a Sharpie and I write my name on that item.  It’s an important ritual because it tells others that if you try and take this item from me, I’ll always be able to get it back since it’s marked with my initials.  Those things I own I hold tightly because I’ve bought them with my hard work and my effort.  In many ways, so much of myself is invested in each of those items. Somehow, I manage to get very attached to anything I’ve purchased.

That’s why these are hard words written by A.W. Tozer:

The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease.

Tozer, A. W. (Aiden Wilson) (2011-03-24). The Pursuit of God (p. 16).

I guess, like Paul, I’ll need to learn to die daily.

I need to learn to hold the things I own loosely.  There must be a process where I transfer the ownership of all I have.

From Craig’s to God’s.  From property of Ford’s to property of the Lord’s.

I’ve even heard of people who write documents for things like vehicles and houses that name God as the owner.  It’s an important reminder that it’s not mine.

The truth is I own nothing, but my old self wants to clamor for something to claim as its own.  The old man doesn’t much enjoy the death of self. Still, you actually don’t have anything until you first give up what you have.  The old Adam is deceived to think he owns and to think he controls, but it is all an illusion of imperfect vision.

It’s one of those strange gospel teachings.  We gain by losing.  We get by giving up.

Referring to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, Tozer writes:

He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation.

Tozer, A. W. (Aiden Wilson) (2011-03-24). The Pursuit of God (p. 19). Kindle Edition.

That ought to be our goal – to have everything, but possess nothing.

When God tested Abraham in Genesis 22, he was asking a crucial question: Abraham, do you love me more than Isaac?  Do you own him, or do you recognize that I own even your son?

When God asked for Abraham to give up his son, he obeyed.

To live with everything and to own nothing means that you don’t see yourself as the owner of anything.  Abraham didn’t actually need to give anything up, but he had to be willing to give it up the moment God asked for his son.   When God calls for you to release something, will you?  The rich young ruler couldn’t.  You must release it because you know all along it never really belonged to you.

We must change our vocabulary.  It’s not mine, it’s His.  We must change our values.  It’s not a loss, but a gain.

Only then can we have everything and own nothing.


  1. says

    Nice article Craig! Dave Ramsey has a good way of relaying this point. He talks about how he once asked his assistant to write out a very large check from his company to a charity. He said it was a piece of cake for her to write the check…she didn’t even bat an eye! That was because she was writing a check from an account that wasn’t hers. She was merely following her orders as a “steward” of the money. If we can similarly view “our money” as funds we are entrusted to take care of according to God’s wishes, it is much easier for us to let go. We don’t hold on so tightly.


  2. Agnes says

    Thanks for posting this article!
    I’m big on application since you have done the observation and interpretation of the Scripture.
    If a friend wants to borrow your car or your camera, would you lend it because it belongs to the Lord. Or would there be other creative ways such as paying them to rent one? Does that mean if I don’t lend I have little faith that God will provide/protect?

    I’d like to hear how others apply “it’s God’s, not mine”.

  3. says

    I just shared a Bible study on the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, of Matthew 13. I think this topic of yours would have fit nicely with the theme of these two back-to-back parables. Next time though, please share your thought BEFORE the bible study! Ha!

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