Have you ever been to a birthday party with a piñata? One child is blindfolded and tries to smack the piñata while all the other little kids stand around watching and waiting for it to break open. And when it does, it’s pure chaos. Kids start diving on the ground, pushing others out of the way, and desperately scraping together a hoard of candy. Inevitably, someone ends up in tears.
Well, it can be tempting to think of life like a piñata. We live as though we must fight and scratch to get the things that we need, the relationships that we want, and the opportunities we desire. We look at our bank accounts and expenses and are tempted to worry or hoard. We consider our schedules and the demands on our time and withdraw from others and responsibilities. But, for children of God, there is a better way. We have a different framework for understanding our money, our talents, our homes, our education, our gifts, our abilities, our bodies, and our families. In understanding this framework, we are freed from the constant grasping and fighting; instead, we live with open hands, ready to receive and to give to others.
Stewardship not Ownership
The first truth to embrace is that of stewardship, not ownership. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…” This Psalm reminds us of this bracing reality: we do not own anything. We live in a world we did not create, nor do we sustain. We inhale and exhale breath that we do not make. We eat food which we did not cause to grow. Even the money we earn results from jobs that God gave us. Everything we have is a gift from our good and loving God. We are not owners, but stewards. When our hearts are reoriented with this truth, we start to see the beautiful invitation to be careful and responsible managers of what we have been entrusted with. This should lead our hearts to both gratitude and contentment and ultimately to deep joy.
I once talked with a friend after a big storm came through the area and her home had to get a new roof. Understanding the expense, I mentioned how sorry I was about that. I will never forget her reply, “Well, it’s all God’s money. If He wants to spend His money on a new roof, then who am I to argue?” What freedom!
When we remember that we own absolutely nothing, but instead receive everything as good gifts from God, it frees us from worrying about what we don’t have or from finding our security in what we do. Even more, the invitation to care for the things we have been given propels us toward generosity and kindness, calling us out of selfishness and greed.
Abundance not Scarcity
Secondly, we can view our lives with the lenses of abundance, not scarcity. If God were a tight-fisted Creator, His ownership of all things would not be good news. But He is wholly other than that! We are loved by a God who gives, and his heart is generous. In fact, the biblical narrative could be boiled down to one big story about our God who gives. He gave Adam and Eve every plant and tree for food. He gave Abraham offspring. He gave the people of Israel manna and quail and water from a rock during their time in the desert. He gave them a day to rest, and a land flowing with milk and honey. God gave them the law. He gave them priests to intercede for them, judges to call them to repentance, and kings to lead them in the way of God. And when they still didn’t listen, God gave them prophets to help them hear. All along the way, God revealed himself as a God who gives and likewise along the way, God’s people demonstrated their inability to receive these gifts. The pattern is impossible to miss throughout the Bible: God gave, and his people rejected his gifts in lieu of lesser things. You would think that God’s giving spirit would have hit its limit.
But it didn’t. John 3:16 shocks us with this truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God as giver is most fully realized in Jesus. In the giving of His one and only Son, we most fully understand His love.
This is amazing news for us. God’s love is not like a piñata. We do not have to scramble and scrape together pieces of God’s love from the floor. He has already given us an immeasurable and infinite amount of love through Jesus. Our families, our abilities, our talents, our time, our money, our bodies, our friendships, and our jobs are all good gifts given to us by our giving God. We do not own anything but receive and then responsibly care for those gifts. And more than that, God’s generosity never runs out! He does not withhold any good thing from His children; we know this because He has given us Jesus. Let us respond with joy and generosity, sharing with others what we did not create for ourselves but have received from our good and generous God.
Photo by Victor Ballesteros on Unsplash