Our eldest daughter tries to bribe us. I’m not sure where she got the idea from, given that in our parenting we try hard to not make a reward the motivation for obedience. Still, she has told us a few times that she will give us a penny if we acquiesce to her request. Then the other day she told Andrea she would “give her a special treat” if she was allowed to watch a movie. Nice. When I heard that story, it struck me that she really has nothing to give us. While she has received gifts, has some change in her piggy banks, and “owns” clothes, Andrea and I truly control anything that might be considered hers. So when she offers to give us something in return for kindness towards her, she has no leverage. It’s all already ours. As Cliff Huxtable in the Cosby show says to his kids, “Your mother and I are rich; you have nothing.”

My mind quickly moved from my relationship with my daughter to my relationship with God, my heavenly Father. Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 4:7 came to mind, where he addresses the pride of the Corinthians, rhetorically asking, “What do you have that you did not receive?” His point: every gift we possess finds its source in Christ. James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights, which is why God can say in Job 41:11, “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven in Mine.” Psalm 50 testifies to God’s owning of all things as well, specifically verses 10-12:

“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
         The cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird of the mountains,
         And everything that moves in the field is Mine.

If I were hungry I would not tell you,
         For the world is Mine, and all it contains.”

 

The popular notion at this point might be to say that all I have to give God is my life. Or to be more poetic and to quote a Christmas song, “What I have I give you – I give you my heart.” I understand the sentiment behind saying that we give Jesus our lives, but that can slowly begin to look like some kind of leverage, manifesting itself in prayers like, “God, I have given you everything – I’ve given you my entire life. Can’t you just do this one thing for me?” While we might say that it is a small thing to give God our lives in response to the depth of love God has shown us in the cross, our lives are a pretty big deal to us. And if we think we own them and voluntarily choose to give them to God, we suddenly get a little antsy when God starts doing things with our lives that we don’t particularly care for.

1 Timothy 6:13 and elsewhere say that God gives life to everything. The fact that I am sitting here breathing and thinking and typing and drinking coffee is owing to nothing of my own volition, but all to the sovereign grace of God. So to say that I give God my life is a misnomer. Every life is God’s, whether redeemed by the blood of Christ or not. To “give my life to Christ” is to simply acknowledge that my life really has never been my own to begin with. Coming to God in Christ is to release the illusion that I have any claim to my life. It is to be awakened to and to lovingly embrace the beautiful truth that, as a chosen child of God, I am no longer my own – I am bought with a price (1 Corinthains 6:19-20).

Abraham Kuyper has famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” And I am included in that.

Nothing in my hands I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling.

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