1 We give thee but thine own,
whate'er the gift may be;
all that we have is thine alone,
a trust, O Lord from thee.
2 May we thy bounties thus
as stewards true receive,
and gladly, as thou blessest us,
to thee our first fruits give.
3 To comfort and to bless,
to find a balm for woe,
to tend the lonely in distress,
is angels' work below.
4 The captive to release,
to God the lost to bring,
to teach the way of life and peace–
it is a Christlike thing.
5 And we believe thy Word,
though dim our faith may be;
whate'er for thine we do, O Lord,
we do it unto thee.
“We Give Thee But Thine” is a hymn about stewardship, about bringing our gifts to be used for the church's ministry of word and deed to needy people–in other Words, our ministry for Christ. Like Psalm 50 and Isaiah 1, this text declares that everything in creation already belongs to God and that what we give and what we keep are all to be used gratefully in God's service (st. 5).
Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook
When we sing about the offering of our gifts, we quickly find several thoughts interwoven with each other. The first is the foundational thought that God’s generosity in Christ has brought us salvation and all good things in life. God has “created heaven and earth and all other creatures from nothing” (Belgic Confession, Article 12) and he continues to “provide whatever I need in body and soul” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, Question and Answer 26). But God’s greatest act of generosity is shown in the gift of his Son “by a most perfect love” (Belgic Confession, Article 20) through whom we find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.
God’s children are called to be compassionately concerned for other humans and their needs, a call which expresses our obedience in living out our baptism. The Belhar Confession, Section 2 points out that the unity of the people of God is manifested as we love one another, know and share one another’s burdens and suffer with one another. Later, the Belhar Confession, Section 4 says, “God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry…supports the downtrodden…helps widows and orphans…” among other things, and we are to follow him in these actions. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 11 calls us to “foster the well-being of all the living,” to “feed the hungry, bring water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and free the prisoner” (paragraph 41).