What do you have that you did not receive?
It’s easy to take pride in what we have earned or the talents we possess. We naturally take ownership of our accomplishments. But, the reality is God is our Creator and provides us with life and the tools to succeed.
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The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian people,
“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Acknowledging that everything we have is received from God, instead of asserting our own superiority, is much more beneficial as shown by these four underlying truths:
1) We are created by God in His image.
Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
We are the centers of His creation in this massive universe. Astronomers estimate the universe contains at least 100–200 billion galaxies, yet God knows us intimately and allows Himself to be known intimately. The Holy Spirit is proof of this -we know God by His Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
When God gives us guidance or wisdom, it is the reward of allowing Him into our lives.
2) All is subject to Jesus (both seen and unseen).
Hebrews 2:8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
God created all and has not relinquished ownership. We are stewards, caretakers, trustees.
Joseph was a steward of the assets of ancient Egypt earning a reputation as faithful and competent. His reward was influence and the use of those assets. He could have hoarded all that was under his authority but he chose to execute his job with integrity.
3) Even our abilities are given by God.
Deuteronomy 8:16–18 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Intangibles like talents, emotions and love are from God to be used for His glory according to His ways. These are gifts.
In just about any group of some size, you can recognize the differing gifts of each person. It’s what makes us so powerful in working together with unified objectives. Things tend to go wrong in these settings when we claim our own superiority.
4) We are heirs sharing in what belongs to Christ if we acknowledge Him.
Galatians 4:6–7 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
An heir is a future owner and has a vested interest in seeing growth in what he is set to inherit — in this case the eternal glory of Christ’s Kingdom.
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In this sense, we become a partner with huge opportunity (if we choose it) rather than an employee or slave with nothing to show in the end except the relatively small by-products of our accomplishments.
What is really worth boasting about? Paul follows our initial verse with this:
You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. (1Corinthians 4:8)And, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1Corinthians 1:31)
What do you have that you did not receive? Boast only in the Lord in all you have received…