I’ve been watching a lot of college football this bowl season. I keep hearing the announcers talk about possession and what the teams are able to accomplish with their possession. Possession is important in football. The announcers used to say that the team with the longest time of possession would win the game. That was before there were prolific offenses like Oregon, Baylor, and Oklahoma State that could score regularly in under a minute.
But back to the point.
Possession. What is it to possess something? And what is the purpose of possessing something?
College football announcers aren’t the only ones talking about possession. The author of 1 Chronicles says that everything belongs to God and we receive it all as a gift form Him to give back for His glory:
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. 15 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 16 O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. (1 Chronicles 29:11-17)
A few years ago while I was watching the Outback Bowl between Michigan State and Georgia, the announcer encouraged viewers to go to You Tube and watch a video of a speech that the quarterback from Michigan State, Kirk Cousins, gave at the beginning of the season.
Cousins kept saying what a privilege it is to play college football. And then he said that the danger is that often privilege leads to entitlement. We see this all the time in college sports. Because of all the privilege their talents afford them, college football players think they are entitled to more.
Fortunately Kirk Cousins is different; he realized the the privilege lead not to entitlement, but to responsibility. He has been entitled to many privileges, and therefore has a responsibility to the school he represents with the name on the front of his jersey and the family he represents with the name on the back of his jersey.
The author of 1 Chronicles and Kirk Cousins are saying very similar things. The items we own and the opportunities that we have do not entitle us to special privilege. Instead the ownership and opportunities should lead us to a responsibility to use all we have to honor the One who gave it to us.
So the house I own is not merely to be used as a place to retreat from the real world or to display trinkets from my travels. Instead, it is a place to show hospitality and welcome friends and strangers to do whatever God has called us to do. It could be opening your home or apartment to a small group Bible study, starting a ministry out of your home or apartment, or in my case, becoming a licensed foster parent.
Similarly, my job is not just a place for me to put in my time to earn money so I can do what I want, nor is it a place for me to expect special honor and respect because of how hard I work. Instead it is an opportunity to honor God by using the gifts and talents He has given me for his glory and an opportunity to serve the people I work with and work for. And so when I start to feel like I’m not receiving what I deserve from my workplace, I need to go back and reevaluate my motives. Do I think I deserve special privileges because of the work I’ve done, or do I realize that the gifts and experiences I have been able to have lead to more responsibility not entitlement?
What do you possess?
What privileges do you have?
Do you recognize those privileges and possessions are a gift from God to be used for His Glory? Or are you getting the picture askew and thinking somehow that you earned them and that they are purely for your enjoyment and your glory?
“We have no right to our possessions; they have been entrusted to us for the good of all. Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him: we are dependent upon him for our very existence. And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and a greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well; what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?” — Paulinus of Nola, Fifth century monk and bishop