By Claire L. Eva, Assistant Director
General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: No matter the arenawhen you've worked hard, it is easy to believe that the gifts are yours. Whatever our circumstances or background, we all must learn the important spiritual lesson of stewardship: every gift is from above.

When I was a child I learned to appreciate the value of the material. Coming from a family of seven children, we had to learn how to stretch a little a long way. The year I entered the seventh grade, as the nursery rhyme says, our "cupboard was bare." My father was ill, and my mother was doing her best to make ends meet.

I'll never forget Mom's efforts to make sure I had an outfit to wear that first day of schoolfinding a hand-me-down green skirt and white blouse, washing, starching, and ironing the outfit with love. The next year I began working and was able to pay for my clothes and help out with household expenses. I am grateful for the discipline I gained; it was rewarding to work hard and be recompensed for my efforts.

Two accomplished musicianshusband and wifeperformed at the renowned Carnegie Hall. After much adulation and a standing ovation, the woman stepped up to the microphone and said, "We would like for you to know that we do not attribute any of our talent to God. Our performance is the result of our personal achievement alonethe product of many years of hard work and training."

I was amazed at the espoused belief of those musicians. But the unsettling and recurring reality I face is that I have uttered the same sentiments. "I worked hard for this, and it is mine!" I have partaken of the same faulty thinking. No matter the arenawhen you've worked hard, it is easy to believe that the gifts are yours.

I've come to see things differently now. And I seek His Spirit to help me internalize this one thing: Every gift is from above. I thank God for life. For every gift. For every talent. I thank Him for the material blessings He lovingly places in my hands.

In reflecting on being His steward, I like to think about the home I "own." I put quotes around "own" because, even though my husband and I have the papers and are making payments, someday we will leave it. We will move away, or, should Christ not return before then, we will die. And the home, or land, will still be here to be occupied by another. It is His. "Occupy until I come," He says (Lk 19:13). "Share what I place in your keeping, as I continue to empty heaven for you."

I agree with Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle. Tithing is a good place to start. We are His children and care for His gifts. If our hearts are His, our treasures will follow.