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I Am Not My Own: Giving To God The Things That Are God's

‘And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.’ - Mark 12:17 -


We tend to hear Mark 12:17 used in relationship to government authorities (i.e. pay your taxes!). What a shame that we seldom hear much discussion of the second half of the verse, to which Jesus certainly wants us to pay more attention. We know He is talking about relinquishing claims, but just what did He mean by “the things that are God’s?” We will benefit by considering how this question applies to our wealth, time, loved ones, and even our bodies.


Many of us feel awkward talking about our money, but it’s actually easier than these other topics, so let’s begin there. The Bible has much to say about the use and abuse of money, but let’s just briefly consider how much of it belongs to God.

 

Our culture respects someone who earns a living; not mooching off others. We must be wary, though, of ever thinking we are ‘self-made.’ Moses warns: ‘lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand made me this wealth.” But you shall remember Yahweh your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth’ (Deut. 8:17-18). Similarly, as the Israelites donate gold and silver to build the Temple, David says: “O Yahweh our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours” (1 Chron. 29:16). So not just a tithe, but ALL of our wealth has come from God and belongs to God. We should keep that in mind when we’re tempted to cling to ‘our’ money.



Time, like money, is something we spend, but (unlike money) time cannot be borrowed, loaned, or hoarded. It just keeps ticking away.


As with money, time belongs to God. He existed before time began. Time was His idea. He started it. He created day and night, and the seasons of the year. The Psalmist says: “This is the day which Yahweh has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24). And hear Moses' prayer: “Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from ever­lasting to everlasting, You are God…for a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night…so teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:2, 4, 12).


We rightly “number our days” when we realize that every minute, month, and year is a gift of God. It belongs to Him; entrusted to us for our good and His glory. So Paul tells all Athens that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to inhabit all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times” (Acts 17:26). This must encourage us not to take ‘our’ time for granted or not to ‘boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth’ (Prov. 27:1). If our limited hours are God’s, wisdom ought to prevent us from wasting them in useless or harmful ways. Wisdom will also lead us to learn the difference between rest and slothfulness. How much time and attention do we devote to TV? Facebook? Feeding on God’s Word? Serving others? Let us ask God to guide us in how best to spend His time.



So what about our loved ones? Our spouse, children, grandchildren, friends, and so on. Are they God’s also? In English, we use the verb ‘have’ to refer to our family members. I have a wife, we have two daughters, etc. This verb is not quite the same as ‘to own,’ as when people claimed to own slaves. Yet saying ‘my daughter’ certainly seems to entail some vague idea of possession.


The Bible clearly teaches that our family members are given to us by God. God gave Eve to Adam, then He gave them children. God gave Abraham and Sarah a child when He was good and ready. The Lord gave Samuel to his mother, Hannah, after she persistently prayed for a child. God opens wombs and closes wombs. He leads us to friends, just as to spouses. Jesus even gave Lazarus back to his sisters…for a time.


Ultimately, of course, each person belongs to God because he/she is made by Him. If you bake a pie, it’s up to you whether you’ll share it. We use the word ‘procreation’ to mean ‘making babies,’ but parents don’t create children: God does. ‘For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb’ (Ps. 139:13). God is the Author of life. While countless couples try to have children, God alone is the One who sovereignly determines whether sperm and ova will actually produce a new person.


When our church has a baby dedication ceremony, parents are acknowledging that God has entrusted a child to them for a time. Mother and father are therefore committing themselves to raise that child in the Lord, with the understanding that their family honors and belongs to Him.



Okay. Fine. Granted. These other things may belong to God, but He will certainly not demand our bodies, will He? After all, we’re the ones who have to live in them and try to maintain them for decades. Well, no. Our bodies are actually not our own. Our bodies (and hearts, minds, and souls) belong to God for at least three reasons.


First of all, as already mentioned, we belong to God because He made us. We literally had nothing to do with our bodies’ appearance on this planet. David says: ‘Your hands made me and established me’ (Ps. 119:73). Job puts it this way: “Your hands fashioned me and made me…You have made me as clay…Did You not…clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?” (Job 10:8-12). And, of course, the Maker owns what He has made.


Secondly, our bodies are God’s because Jesus purchased us with His own life. Paul asks: ‘Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body’ (1 Corin. 6:19-20). That price was the torture, blood, and death of Jesus. We were already His, but He still redeemed us from the eternal punish­ment we deserved, and now the Holy Spirit resides in us as our rightful Owner.


Thirdly, we are God’s because when we were born again we surrendered ourselves to Him. Not only did He adopt us into His family (John 1:12-13), but He calls us to offer our ‘bodies as a sacrifice—living, holy, and pleasing to God, which is [our] spiritual service of worship’ (Rom. 12:1). Even though they already belong to God, we now willfully offer our bodies to Him as an act of worship to use as He sees fit.



My body is God’s. I have no authority to do whatever I want with it. This truth ought to provoke serious reflection. If I ponder how my body is not my own, I may hesitate before choosing to bloat, shrink, intoxicate, tattoo, pierce, or otherwise harm this body. Nor will I worship anyone else’s body. In my spiritual act of worship, I respect this body as God’s property. I am careful with God’s eating and drinking body, sleeping body, sexual body, working body, exercise body, even sick and dying body. I give unto God what is God’s, so that He will be glorified in this body.


In Finding Nemo, the animated movie about a lost fish, there’s a flock of noisy seagulls. Wherever they fly, they fight for scraps to eat, squawking: “Mine, mine, mine…” In so many ways, when we were slaves to sin, we wandered through life grasping at possessions, pleasure, and people, saying: “Mine, mine, mine…” But when God opens the eyes of our hearts and gives us faith, we start to see that everything is His, and all that we have is from Him. As we grow in Christlikeness, He enables us to say: “Yours, Yours, Yours,” and to truly give unto God what is God’s.


“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)

All Scripture quotations are from the Legacy Standard Bible

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