"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too." (Psalm 24:1).
Parents of two-year old children often hear the word "mine." It might be said when they refuse to share a toy, lay claim to a phone, or want to sit in a particular chair. Needless to say, such statements give parents the opportunity to teach their little ones a host of important values. Foremost among these lessons is that in some sense, everything we receive is a gift, a possession that we steward only for a time. This is even the case for those things we come to think of as uniquely ours, things we've worked for or even inherited. It's a lesson that's easily forgotten, even if it is a lesson learned in childhood.
The Bible begins with God's creation of the world. In Genesis 1, God turns the stewardship of creation over to human beings, who as male and female are made in God's image. They are tasked with caring for the creation, working so that it will flourish. And they are to do so as God's representatives; the earth remains God's possessions, we are given the responsibility of caring for it, but also the right to enjoy it and enjoy our lives.
This truth has tremendous implications for our understanding of giving to God, both with our time and with our finances. All our possessions, all that we have, are gifts that have been given to us for a time - we know that they are ours for a season on earth, but we cannot take them with us after death. The portion we return to God through the tithe or other special gifts is a recognition of the origin of all that we possess. Everything came from God - our lives, our talents, our minds, our abilities. Through the act of financial giving we declare to God, "It's all yours!"
Prayer: God, help me to see that all I have is yours, whether I have much or I have little. Help me, as the Apostle Paul wrote, "to be content in all things." With the gifts I have received from you, help me use them in a way that accomplishes your purposes in the world. Help me be generous and help those in need. I claim your promise that someday I will be with you and truly have all things in life beyond what I can even imagine. Amen.