How do you give it all to God if he owns everything?
A really fair and reasonable question. God gives us free will. He gives us sovereignty over the things in our immediate sphere and in our lives. He gives us “ownership” over our time, over what we think about, over what we possess, where we live, what kind of work we do and so forth. God gives us this “free will” because he loves us and because he wants us to return his love freely, of our own volition. If we did not have things, how could we use them to show our love to God? If God did not really give us these things–if they are not really ours, then for us to give back to God or even to give to others would be a farce.
I suppose that, in principle, God owns everything, but he willingly gives up his sovereignty over our lives. In this sense, we do, in fact, “own” our own lives, our time, our thoughts, our possessions etc. because God gives us these things as our own. Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” The very statement Jesus made implies that from Jesus” (and therefore from God’s) perspective, we have things which we can voluntarily give up.
God does not need anything. He does not need our stuff. He does not need our devotion. What he wants is our heart and our love. He does not demand these of us. He gives us a choice whether we will have a relationship with him on his terms or not, and whethe we will devote the things he has entrusted to us to serving him.
What does it mean to give up all our things to God? Does that mean that we throw them up into the air, assuming that they will not fall down, and that God will keep them? Of course not. What it means to give up our time, our money, our possessions and our relationships to God is that we, in our hearts, hand them over to God to do with them what he will. A Christian might literally sell his car and give the money to the poor. Either that or, more likely (since he or she needs a way to get to work), he might decide to use the car to serve other people as much as possible. We may not throw our money up in the air or give every single penny away, but we decide to become very generous with our money, using it to serve the Kingdom of God, finding different ways to help the poor and giving generously to the work of our local church. Giving everything to God means to submit your use of those things to his will and to using them the way he would want us to use them. It might mean literally giving these things away, but more likely it means deciding to use it for God. Like Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (please read the entire context) “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”