January 22, 2014

All is His . . . all is mine

A wealthy landowner took his pastor to the top of a hill and waved his hand towards the broad countryside before them. He said, “Everything you see belongs to me.”

The pastor said, “Oh no. Everything you see belongs to me.”

The landowner was puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Scripture says that everything belongs to Christ and because I belong to Him, everything He has belongs to me. This is as much mine as it is yours, but for the moment you have the responsibility of tending it, being a steward of it, and making it yield something for the glory of God.”

The startled landowner fell to his knees and dedicated himself, his family, and his lands to God. The pastor spoke and the landowner responded according to these verses . . .

For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:22–23)

In context, this statement is made to people who were putting those they “followed” on pedestals and using that association to elevate themselves beside their heroes. This happens today too. People boast of their human leaders or others, putting them on a pedestal, perhaps not realizing this is idolatry.

I could do this. I could brag of once being a member of the church led by a very prominent pastor, writer and Bible teacher. I could boast that I’ve had lunch with famous authors, visited the home of noted scholars and teachers, and engaged in correspondence with those whom others have elevated to star status. The temptation is there, but doing this is folly.

For one thing, the prominent pastor occasionally loses his car keys like the rest of us do, and the authors cannot balance their checkbooks or are extremely disorganized. Even the “stars” make typos and misspell words. Each of us has our quirks and foibles. No one is pedestal material.

For another thing, relying on people for status is idolatry. Christ is the only perfect person and worthy of honor and glory. If I need any standing in this world, any sense of importance of being special, I must get it from belonging to Him, not from the people I know, or anything else.

However, I can say this far more easily than living it. When put down, or feeling discouraged, or thinking my worth in the world is less than zero, I tend to want human praise and encouragement. I want a friend to tell me I’m okay, or good, or helpful. I want to be special, even if it is merely by knowing or standing beside someone that is highly respected, as if their glory will rub off on me.  

Every day I look at three letters; L – A - C. They remind me that I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6) and made capable in Christ (Philippians 4:13). Jesus stands by me and elevates me. I am His child and He belongs to me just as I belong to Him.

Putting people on a pedestal because of what they have or do makes no sense. All things belong to God (and to me) and everything we have, including the ability to draw our next breath, comes from God also. He is our source and resource, and He alone is worthy of our allegiance. He calls on us to hear and obey Him, to realize all things are from Him, and to call upon Him in our need . . .

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. (Psalm 50:14–15)

Whether it is land and other possessions, or people and our associations with them, all belong to Jesus Christ. He freely shares whatever I need and freely offers people to encourage me, yet all goodness and help comes from Him. To Him belongs the glory.

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