Yesterday I posted a little about Joseph, and I was thinking more of him today. It is 'trash day' here in Pokeberry and this morning I finished up some pruning I was doing this week and quickly carted the mess out to the curb for pickup. Here in the south it is common to prune something in one's yard almost every week. The neighborhood we live in is older and established so our house has many shrubs and trees and they need frequent upkeep. I tend them myself and do it happily, just as I used to tend the plantings around my own house back in Wisconsin.
When we moved into this rented house the landlord provided some landscaping service, there was a crew that came weekly and did 'mow and blow' work. It was fall and there were leaves and things all over the yard every week and they would come and use their blower to clean up the yard. It was nice to have but the landlord was paying about $200 a month for this service and times being tight for everyone these days, when he saw that had our own tools and didn't mind doing yardwork, he let that service go. I don't mind that. My husband and children cut grass I do most of the other work. We picked up an electric blower second hand for $20 and we will do that as well.
Since we have moved in we've taken care of things in this house almost as if it were our own. Hubby has done some very minor repairs, I've kept it clean and worked on the landscape. When the washing machine died we went out and bought a new one and deducted it from our rent--as we had agreed with the landlord. We picked up one we found on Craigs list and bargained it down to $50. We also purchased and put down mulch this spring and deducted that from the rent as well--with the landlord's ok. When we did these things we treated the landlord's money as if it were our own and didn't take advantage of him, but tried to get him the best deal.
Why? Why do these things as a tenant?
Well for one thing I have a good landlord. That is something I value. I've had a landlord or two in my life that I wasn't as happy with, and I know what a difference that makes in a tenant's life. For another thing-- it is right. Yup. Its right to be a good steward of someone else's things. Joseph did that too. He refused to be with his master's attractive wife--because he valued his master and appreciated the treatment and trust he had received at his hands.
The New Testament instructs the Christian to be a good steward of the things that belong to others--to one's landlord or boss etc.
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? Luke 16:12.
To me, I look at it this way. This house is a place where I am starting over a new life. I have been through the 'exodus' in a sense, been a refugee from an economic disaster in our life. Now in this time and place someone has given me an opportunity to regroup and rebuild some of what I had before. I have a sense of self dignity when I take care of my landlord's house. I enjoy working with plants again and making the house look pretty. I take pride in it.
In my neighborhood here in Charlotte, many of the houses are rentals. It is an older neighborhood, there are many older residents and younger that own their own homes but there are also many homes owned by investors who are renting them out and hoping to sell them some day when the market is better. Sadly, renters have a bad name here. The homeowning neighbors see renters as a sign of decline- while I see them as a sign that investors still think this neigborhood has potential. I am sort of trying to help that potential. I have good rapport with my homeowning neighbors because they can see that we are not 'letting the place go' as some renters tend to do. I've made an effort to be friendly and keep things up and I've won them over. They now see that just being a renter does not make a person 'less'.
I pay a reasonable rent and have a home to live in that suits my family well in exchange. I go a step beyond and take care of this house and use my talents and skills to even try to improve it a little. Someday I may have my own again, but now--I see this as from the hand of God--just as much as my own home. For this reason I am happy to be a good steward of that which is not my own. Maybe it is a good humbling that we have been through? Maybe 'having it all' wasn't good for us? I don't know 'why' things happen but I do know that as a Christian I am to believe that God is working in all things for my good, even in the unpleasant things.
The result of all this is that if I am a good steward of my landlord's house I can feel 'right' about my life. When you go through a financial crisis and all the attendant 'life mess' that often results from such an upheaval--its an important thing to 'feel right' again. Being a good steward of something is a great way to attain that good feeling.