Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. – Deuteronomy 10:14
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. – Romans 1:20
I grew up in a mom and pop motel, owned and operated by my mom and dad for nearly 30 years. It was a small independent enterprise, “perpetually new,” as my dad would advertise. I remember when we built a 75 foot TV tower antenna and put in a system of amplifiers so that all the rooms could get access to a good TV signal. I remember, also, when we replaced the black and white TVs with color TVs. It took several months to do so because we would buy a few at a time as we were able to save the money to do so. Money was tight. The business was challenging.
I’ll never forget, however, the day we went down to one of the rooms that had been rented the night before. The maid had called us urgently asking us to come down and see what the guests had done to that room.
Over the years we had experienced towels being stolen by our guests. We knew sometimes people would rent a room for one person and sneak a second person in. We knew that sometimes guests would party and trash the room, breaking furniture or bedding. But we were not prepared for what we discovered when we arrived at the room that day. The guest had stolen one of our new color TVs. We didn’t have margin to absorb such an impact.
You might rent a room, take the key and have exclusive access to that room for a period of several hours, or even several days. That doesn’t mean, however, that you own the things in that room. It’s not yours just because you’ve used it for any length of time.
How is it that we get the idea that we own the things of this world just because we use them for a period of years or even decades? This is not our world. The world’s very existence is testimony to God’s creative power and ultimate ownership. To him belongs all things. Because of his fatherly, divine goodness and mercy he has given us use of the world and everything in it. He provides for our wellbeing, protects us from harm and danger, and sustains us all by his loving grace.
For all this it is my duty to thank, praise, serve and obey God. This is most certainly true. (Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to the 1st Article of the Creed)