The Bible is a collection of writings and stories from a wide variety of people in different places and different times that tell about the nature and character of God and about God’s relationship to humanity. God’s outrageous generosity toward humanity is one of the primary themes that runs cover to cover from the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures all the way through the New Testament.
God is the Great Provider, and provides all we need with abundance!
- God gives life and all that life entails and requires.
- God gives freedom when we are enslaved.
- God gives hope when we suffer.
- God gives protection when we are in danger.
- God gives grace and mercy even when we don’t deserve it.
- God gives opportunities and second chances.
- God gives relationships and communities to support and help us.
- God gives love to people in all places and in all circumstances.
This list of examples from the biblical story of God providing everything needed could go on and on. And yet, it is difficult sometimes to feel and experience the abundance that comes from God. It is in our human nature to worry about, fear, and really feel the illusion of scarcity. Even the Israelites fleeing Egypt felt scarcity and worried about not having the manna they needed for tomorrow! However, God wanted to be known to the future generations as the dependable provider of all good things (Exodus 16).
Freedom From and Freedom For
Trusting that God has provided, is providing, and will always provide everything we need frees us from the anxiety of needing to provide for ourselves. Martin Luther described this in his essay, “The Freedom of a Christian.” We are freed from the responsibility of fending for ourselves and freed for the opportunities to use what we have to serve God and one another. Even this freedom is an incredible gift from God!
Understanding this glorious freedom changes how we view the gifts God has bestowed upon us. All that we are and all that we have comes from God. It is not, however, for the sole purpose of our own comfort and pleasure. God has been generous to us so that we can be generous to others. In this way, what we receive from God is not gifted to us; it is entrusted to us. What we have is not ours because we worked hard to earn it and deserve it. It is ours only because God gave it to us and trusts us to use it to meet our own needs and the needs of others. We are then only stewards of our lives, our time, our talents, and our possessions.
Love is a Verb
These are the things God has given to us as signs of God’s gracious love. When Jesus tells us to love one another as he has loved us (John 15), there is an implication that this means to provide for others as God has provided for us. When Jesus speaks of “love”, it is almost always as an action verb and never as warm fuzzy feelings.
The most important question of stewardship is this: How will we care for and use what God has entrusted to us in order to love, serve, and care for our neighbors?