Psalm 24:1 and Colossians 1:11-20
The Rev. Dr. Robert S. Langworthy, preaching
November 20, 2016
I am going to begin this sermon at the only starting place where it could begin: talking about Skittles.
Ed Young took his family to a high school football game. During the third quarter, his young daughter, Landra, asked, “Daddy, can I have some money to buy some candy.” He gave her a $5 bill, and she returned from the concession stand with a big bag of Skittles.
As he watched her scarf them down, he asked whether he might have a couple of Skittles. No!” she replied with vehemence. “They’re mine!”
Ed looked at her and thought about a couple of things his daughter didn’t yet understand: First, without him she would have had no Skittles. Second, if he really wanted some Skittles, he was strong enough to take every one of them by force. Third, if he thought it would be an even better blessing to her, he could go to the concession stand, put 300 packages of Skittles on a credit card, and give her more Skittles than she’d know what to do with.
“We all have Skittles,” Ed reflects, some of us more, some of us less; but we all have Skittles. As we enjoy our Skittles, our loving Lord asks us, “Would you share some of your Skittles with me?” More often than we’d like to admit, we like Landra exclaim, “No! They’re mine.”
And, like Landra, we don’t understand several things: First, though we like her may have made some effort in getting our Skittles, we ultimately got them thanks to God. He bought them, and they belong to Him by rights. We get them just because He gives them as a grace. Second, it is by God’s allowance we hold “possession” of our Skittles, for God could at any moment decide to take them all back, and there’s nothing we could do about it. Third, God has enough resources to give us even more Skittles, more in fact than we’d know what to do with.
Here’s the truth the Bible teaches: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,” Psalm 24:1 says, “the world, and those who live in it.” King David, who wrote that Psalm, so believed in what he was inspired to say there, that after making a big personal donation to the building fund for the first temple he prayed in acknowledgement that his generosity to God derived from God’s generosity to him, declaring to the Lord, “All that is in the heavens and in earth is yours!” In other words, everything David had – his treasure, his talents, his time, even his Skittles – belonged to the Lord all along.
Our scripture from Colossians, exalting the greatness of King Jesus, exclaims that He owns everything because everything owes its existence to Him. Verse 16 says, “All things have been created through him and for him.” In other words, everything that exists, as His, exists in order to serve Him. While some things may be in my possession, everything remains His possession, including me.
That is why 1 Peter 2:9, in describing the Lord’s people, calls them “a people for His possession”.
Each of us both does and does not belong to ourselves. We belong to ourselves in the sense that God has given us freedom of choice, and we can choose to live as if our Creator had no claim on us. We can deny and defy our belonging to Him.
Yet, in another sense we never belong to ourselves because we owe our existence, from start to finish, to King Jesus. We came from Him, we are sustained through life by Him, and one day we will go back to Him. The only question is, whether before that day, we decide to be all His by entrusting ourselves to Him and living under His rule.
To live under His rule is to acknowledge that all that we are and all that we have are His, and to keep deciding to use all that we are and all that we have for Him.
The happy joke in living life this way is that there is no sacrifice in it even though we end up giving away more of our time, talent and treasures than others. The happy joke is that the same Lord who asks us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him is the Lord who, as 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” The happy joke is that whatever we acknowledge as His, He makes ours to enjoy as never before. Let me explain.
First, when we acknowledge that all we are and all we have are the Lord’s, we relish everything because we see everything as a gift of grace given by Someone who didn’t have to share anything with us but did so extravagantly just because He loves us.
Second, when we acknowledge that all we are and all we have are the Lord’s, we use those blessings in the purposes of love, and that injects them with a greater capacity to bless us than they had before. Sharing them enlarges our enjoyment of them.
Pastor Randy Alcorn, like me, takes greater pleasure in his books than in any other material possession. And Randy, like me, has over time bought a lot of books. His personal library means the world to him. He would loan books out, but it upset him when they weren’t returned or came back hard worn.
The Spirit, however, made it clear to Randy that Randy’s books were in fact Jesus’ books; and the Spirit led Randy to put them in the church library, where Randy could still avail of them, but where anyone else could as well. That act of obedience in acknowledgement of Jesus’ ownership of them ended up expanding Randy’s pleasure from his books.
Randy started to go into the church library and look at the names of those who had checked out his books. It dawned on him that the Lord was enhancing the lives of others by the books he loved but had shared. So Randy began to be, not annoyed, but thrilled by how worn some of them were getting from frequent use. In fact, it got so the more worn a book, the more delighted Randy felt.
What Randy learned was that when we acknowledge that everything is the Lord’s, everything becomes all the more ours. In our sharing our piece of the pie, we don’t go hungry; for the pie grows and our individual piece becomes larger and more delicious.
Let us share our pie and our Skittles, whatever we have and whatever we are. Let us pray.