“The earth is the Lord’s everything in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) I think that about covers it! There is nothing that doesn’t belong to God; no one who was not knit together in his or her mother’s womb and who is given breath each moment by the Creator, God.
It’s easy to say God owns it all, but what does that actually mean? Our pastor recently spoke on this topic and I’ve been meditating on Psalm 24:1 and other verses regarding the issue of ownership, possessions, money and materialism. For me it means, the condo we own is actually His and the people who have the means to buy it are His. The savings account in our name (that is dwindling as we wait for God’s timing for our departure to Italy) is His. He rules over the hearts and bank accounts of those who have brought us to 66% of our financial support goal, and over the 34% that we remain to see provided. He owns the time we spend with people and the opportunities we have to share our hearts. And all the things we are selling or giving away so that we can follow Christ to Italy, was His anyway.
So, if He owns it all, why do we think that we do? We work hard for it right? I know I put far too much stock in getting to the end of my day able to look back at what I accomplished. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth (whether you or I acknowledge it or not).” (Deut. 8:17-18) It turns out we are actually managers of everything He already owns. And the danger comes when we forget not only that everything is from God, but when we forget the things that he has taught us about serving Him with it.
I heard a great illustration in Sunday School yesterday that makes this all more tangible. Imagine that a parent gives his or her child a stuffed animal. The parent gives it to the child knowing that it will provide the child with comforts and pleasures. But then the child becomes an adult who is obsessed with the stuffed animal. The adult child knows it is not real and it can’t provide them with real love or relationship but it doesn’t matter. The child’s affections turn towards the toy without thought about the giver. The child build his or her days around it and the animal becomes the sole focus. The child no longer has time for you… Obviously it’s not a perfect analogy but it portrays how ridiculous we can be when we treat wealth (money, time, possessions etc) that God has given us in the same way.
God has given us much and with it is responsibility to REMEMBER Him and be faithful with what He has given. Like He did for the Israelites, “He led you (and I) through the vast and dreadful wilderness (what is your wilderness time?), that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock (what is your impossible situation which God made possible?). He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness (what is something He gave you that was unexpected provision you didn’t understand, sustaining you in ways you didn’t know He could?)…to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” (Deut 8:15-17)
Even though often times our lives seem to revolve around the money we do or don’t have, it’s merely a tool we’ve been given. The problem is when it becomes more than that to us. Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money (or anything for that matter). The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.'” (Luke 6:14-15) Not that God detests money, but He does detest when we value it more highly than Him.
So what it comes down to is our hearts. We could argue all day about how to steward our money, and while that is an important issue, the key is not what we’re doing but why. Motives move us to do things, so if our heart motive is right our actions will follow.
May our hearts remember Him, that He owns it all, and that He deserves our affection always. Holy Spirit, help me not to forget all God has done and to serve Him well with everything I have been given.