Recently, I spend some time with my brother, sister-in-law, and their fresh new baby – my nephew. I have had the pleasure of getting to see them three times in the last 7 months of my nephew’s life. There is something about getting around a ridiculously cute baby that can give a women baby brain! However, during my recent visits, the Father has been delivering a grace into my heart to love my nephew, and rejoice with my brother and sister’s gift, without coveting that gift. Just like appreciating a sunset for itself, a beautiful flower for itself, a wonderful piece of art – Possession does not equal enjoyment, and ownership does not equal satisfaction. We can enjoy something, no matter whose it is, for what it is.
Paul says, “So let no one boast in men. 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 Cor. 3:21-23) Sit in that for a moment, ‘all things are yours.’ Now, clearly it would be of poor taste to walk into your neighbor’s home and say, “I like that lamp, scripture says that all things are mine, so I think I will take it.” As we compare scripture with scripture, we find that we are also told “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 – italics added) So what do these mean when taken together?
In the context of 1 Corinthians 3, Christians were boasting in men. They were saying that some were of “Team Paul” and others “Team Apollos.” However, Paul flips this around and says that all things: Paul or Apollos, Cephas or the world, life or death, even the present or the future—all are yours. But it doesn’t stop there – AND you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. In other words, all these things are yours, but all these things (people, the world, things present or future) do not terminate on you, but on Christ and God, the Father – “For from him [Christ] and through him and to him are all things.” (Rom. 11:36)
Therefore, taken together, we are not to covet as if to own what is another’s, or to boast in men as if we belong to one camp or another, but all things are ours in enjoyment, and gifts of grace, from the Gift Producer and Giver – Jesus. We begin to internalize, by grace, that possession does not equal enjoyment, and ownership does not equal satisfaction. Scriptures that tell us to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice take on a deeper meaning. We will not simply rejoice because some piece of good new is ours, or something is ours, but simply because we saw it, or heard it, enjoyed it, and recognized whatever/whoever it is, is a glorious finite reflection of a good and perfect God.
Truth: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)