Paul begins his famous speech about the unknown God by proclaiming that God made the world and therefore is the Lord of his creation. Acknowledging that God is the originator of all things is the beginning of lifestyle stewardship, declares pastor and author Ray Stedman (1917–1992).
What is [Paul] saying here? First, that God is the Maker and not the one who was made. God was not created by man; he is the One who makes man and everything else that exists in all the universe. He is the originator of all things.
We have not moved very far from ancient idolatry. In the ancient world, they took a piece of gold or silver or wood and carved or formed an idol, thus worshiping the works of men’s hands. Today we don’t use images, but we still see men worshiping themselves, projected to infinite proportions. Man simply thinks of himself, projects this into infinity, and worships that. That is his god. That is exactly what idolatry [is]. Paul points out that this is not in line with reality. God is not the projection of man; God is greater than man. God originated man. Everything that exists came from his hands. He is the Maker, and not the made.
Second, God is the giver, and does not have any needs himself. “The God who made the world and everything in it [is the Lord of heaven and earth … He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else (Ac 17:24–25)].” God is not looking for anything from man, as idolatry and paganism taught. Men had to bring gifts to the gods, they had to do things for their gods, to propitiate them and sacrifice to them, and bring them all kinds of things.
Although the idols of today may look a bit different, people today surely still have them. Stedman continues:
Do not think that we are free from idolatry, for if a god is that which is the most important thing in your life, that to which you give your time and effort and energy, that which occupies the primary place of importance to you, the thing you live for, then men have many gods even today. Money is a god for some. Fame is a god to others. Your children can be your gods. You yourself can be your own god; you can worship yourself … These are the false gods that people everywhere worship. They make continual demands upon us. They do nothing for us, but we must work for them.
Paul cancels all this out. He says the real God is one who gives, who pours out. He does not need anything from you.
Think About It
If you do not have a proper understanding of who God is, can you be an effective steward? Why or why not?
In what ways is God fundamentally greater than any idol?
What is the most important thing in your life?
Pray About It
Lord, you alone are great and worthy of my worship. When I am tempted to turn to something or someone to fill my heart and meet my needs, I pray that you will draw my eyes back to your great Father-heart of love. I praise you for being the One who pours out everything I need and desire.