Some things don’t belong to me. Not only are they not mine, but they also aren’t the possession or responsibility of anyone around me. While we have great influence over our lives, we are not ultimately in charge of all things. Some stuff is God’s stuff.
While that should bring us great comfort, we actually aren’t very good at trusting God to do what he needs to do. Instead, we often try to usurp God’s authority and take responsibility for things which far exceed our ability. This leads to meddling, worrying, internal strife, and external frustration. Not every problem in life is a failure of trusting God, but many of them are.
Some things just don’t belong to us. While we are responsible for much–our character, choices, attitudes, etc.–we are not responsible for all things happening around us or even in us. Some things belong to God.
- Today. I didn’t wake up this morning and decide if I wanted to breathe or not. My breath was not of my own choosing, but instead is a gift from God. Life and death are ultimately in God’s hands. While we can influence both, He gets the final say. When I wrongly conclude that I control life, I can do with each day whatever I wish. However, when I see today as a gift from God, I’m responsible to use it in a way that communicates gratitude to the One who gave it to me.
- Judgment. I have no right to judge others. While I can fairly determine actions as right or wrong, I do not have a right to pronounce a sentence of condemnation on another. That’s God’s stuff. No matter how wronged I have been, it is up to God to carry out any punishment or judgment on my offender. I don’t have to do the mental work to figure out what they deserve. I don’t have to labor to make sure they suffer for what they have done. It’s right for me to recognize that I’ve been hurt by others, but it is not right for me to try to hurt them in return. Judgment belongs in God’s hands, not mine.
- Other People. What God does with other people is His business. If he wants to have mercy on someone who I think does not deserve it, that’s His call. If he chooses to bless someone with something I wanted, that’s up to Him. Other people belong to God, not to me. So whatever God wants to do with someone is not my business.
- Natural Events. What the world sees as chance, we see as God. Whatever happens, we know that at a minimum it received God’s divine permission and may even be the result of his divine command. While at times this is confusing (i.e. why does God allow suffering and evil?) in the end it is comforting; we aren’t at the whims of fate. From the life-shattering tragedies to the minor inconveniences, things don’t just happen by chance. God has plans and He is working all things together for our good and His glory.
The Joy of Not Being Responsible
My counselor once told me, “Kevin, the more things you are responsible for the more things you are going to feel guilty about.” It’s a simple truth that responsibility brings with it a weight of expectation and concern. We won’t handle every situation perfectly and then we will wrestle with our failures.
When we take responsibility for what is actually God’s, we are set up for failure. We can’t control others. We can’t rightly determine what they do or do not deserve. There is no way for us to predict, much less control, many of the big issues which impact our world. Those things belong to God and we should be grateful that they do.
Two Action Steps
Leaving to God what is God’s does leave us with two primary responses:
- Trust. As I leave to God what is God’s, there are some things I’m simply going to have to trust him with. I don’t control them. They aren’t my responsibility. I have to recognize my powerlessness in the situation and trust that his sovereign goodness will do what is best. Trust is easier for some than others, but it is difficult for everyone when we don’t understand (or disagree) with what is happening. We should trust anyways. As we trust Him, we remind ourselves that He is far more capable to handle those circumstances than we are.
- Thanks. As I recognize the things that are beyond mine (or anyone’s) control, there are some things for which I need to say “thank you.” Asking the question, “What is God’s?” reminds me that I’m not in control of all things. This reminds me that not everything in my life is the result of my effort or ingenuity. Every good thing in my life is ultimately a gift from God. This truth should result in a deep sense of gratitude toward God for all the things He has given to me.
It’s a simple question–what’s God’s? Yet it is a question we far too often fail to ask. If we will simply pause and ponder these two words, we will be saved from a great deal of frustration and strife. We will restrain ourselves from attempting to control things which we could never control. We will be saved from a great deal of sorrow and concern. Reminding ourselves that some things belong solely to God will create within us a feeling of peace about many things in life.
Make a list of your greatest points of worry. How many of those things don’t belong to you, but actually, belong to God?
Make a list of the best things in your life right now. How many of those things are more a gift from God rather than an outcome of your own doing?