All prepared for a workout, I walked into the ladies locker room at my local gym and headed toward my favorite locker. I stopped short. The locker, my locker, the one I always used when I came to the gym, had a padlock of silver and black on it. Never mind the fact that I didn’t rent it or anything. Then I started chuckling softly to myself. I had no more claim on that locker than the interloper did.
As I got ready to go lift, that got me to thinking. How many ways do we lay a false claim on something? Does any of this sound familiar? My pew. My house. My job. My children. My money. My life! I raise my hand for all of these, except maybe one. Okay, all of them if you call dogs fur children (which, I confess, I do).
Too many times, I find myself forgetting that everything in my life—everything!—is a gift from God. Where we’re born. Our talents and smarts. Our looks. Our wealth. Everything comes from God. However, when I start standing apart from God, either by not being in His word or through my pride, which can rear its head at any moment, I start laying claims to things that aren’t mine. I forget the one big thing mentioned in the verse below.
“Similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.” (1 Corinthians 7:22b-23, NIV)
As a Jesus follower, I am not my own. I was bought at a price. Jesus paid in blood for my freedom. For many, that may seem strange. We’re steeped in the American tradition of independence, free thinking, and pulling ourselves up—on our own with no help at all—by our bootstraps.
I am not my own. And since I’m not my own, nothing I have is my own. My smarts and talents come from God. He made me, after all. Any material wealth or items bought with money I make are not my own. They come from earnings related to the smarts and talents. And my kind, loving husband? A total gift from God.
I think that realizing we have such great blessings from God does three things for us. It makes us more thankful. And when gratitude rises, complaining falls. Humility also rises. It’s impossible to lay claim to anything when we realize that everything comes from God. Finally, joy filters in. God is a good God. He gives us gifts to use, not to stow away. When we use them, we reap great joy.
The next morning when I once more headed to the gym with a friend, that same black and silver lock was on my locker. Except this time, it wasn’t my locker at all. I smiled to myself, changed clothes, and headed out to lift.
Questions: What things do you loudly state as yours? How do you battle against such pride of ownership?