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IT'S NOT YOURS
by Philip Owen

          It is human nature to become very proprietary about what we have in our possession. But as believers we should never mistake possession with ownership. The only thing we truly own, the only thing that belongs exclusively to us, is our sin. Everything else we have belongs to God—our possessions, our talents and abilities, even our bodies and the life that flows through them. And since everything belongs to Him, He alone has the right to determine what we do with what we have. The believer who adamantly thinks that a God-given talent is an automatic indication that God wants Him to use it is deluded. Although it may be considered a general principle that God intends us to utilize the abilities He gives us, it is equally true that He may bestow a gift in order to provide us with something to give back to Him. We should consider the possibility that giving up the exercise of some talent, opportunity, or benefit may be the highest use of that gift and may bring the most glory to God. After all, the Lord doesn’t need our service, but He does want our love and submission. A very sketchy survey of major Bible figures will, I believe, make this point.

            Consider Abraham to whom God promised the land of Canaan as his possession. Abraham freely and willingly offered the choice of land to his nephew Lot, who greedily picked the best grazing lands on the plains, consigning Abraham’s herds to the less commodious mountains. Abraham might well have asserted his just claim to the finest of the land (to all of it, for that matter), but he freely gave it up, “for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

            And what of Moses? Surely, he must have recognized God’s hand behind his rescue from the Nile by none other than the daughter of Pharaoh. And surely, he must have been tempted to see in his position as the adopted grandson of Pharaoh, the very distinct possibility that God must have ordered that unique circumstance as the means of delivering His people from Egyptian bondage. Yet he willingly gave up the wealth and privilege that came with being a member of the royal household, “considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).

            Or Jonathan, the son of King Saul and the natural heir to his throne. Recognizing God’s anointing on David, Jonathan rejoiced to defer to him, in effect, giving up the throne in order that David might become king.

            Then there is Ruth, who forfeited her family, her native land, and the potential of marrying one of her countrymen to follow her mother-in-law Naomi to a strange land and the scarcest of prospects.

            Think of Peter, James, and John, who forsook a lucrative fishing trade to follow a penniless, itinerant prophet, who succeeded in making deadly enemies everywhere He went.

            And what about Paul, who sacrificed privilege, wealth, and status as a member of the elite Sanhedrin in order to end up being beheaded by Nero for the sake of Christ.

            So, far from being strange, rather giving up some temporal comfort, advantage, or talent should be considered par for the course by believers. It should neither surprise us nor cause us anguish if the Lord asks us to forfeit something we possess. Giving up something for His sake may be a far richer service than utilizing it might have been. But we should also remember that the fact that the Lord does not ask us to “return” to Him some gift He has bestowed, nevertheless does not give us carte blanche to do what we want. All that we are and have should be dedicated to Him, and we should seek His will regarding when, where, and how we use that which He has placed in our hands. Remember: “for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8).

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