Me And Mine
Recently I’ve been pondering the idea of “ownership”. My thoughts are a result of a book I’m reading in which the author says that Americans tend to have an unhealthy perception of what they own, and what they don’t. He said that you can always tell when a person misunderstands ownership by how often they use the word “my”. So I decided I would try to keep track of how often I used the word “my”, just to see how I measured up to what the author was saying. And what I've discovered is that I use the word “my” a lot more than I thought I did.
For example, I use it to describe physical things that I own: “My car is over there”, or “Let me get my phone.” I also use it for relationships I have: “My wife isn't here now”, or “My friends are coming to visit.” I use it for the resources I’m using: “My money is in the bank.” Or “My time is better spent on this project than on that one.” And I use it to describe the work I’m doing: “My ministry is on the west side of town.” And “My church is really doing well right now.”
For most of us, I think those are all natural and common ways to use the word “my", so at first I wasn’t feeling too bad about my usage. However, the more I pondered it, the more I realized that those are all areas of life that God has called me to surrender to Him, and at one time or another in my life, I've committed each of these things to Him. However, each time I use the word "my", it can build a mindset that says those things actually belong to me. The result is that I end up going through the day frustrated when "my" time is taken up by things I hadn't planned on doing. Or, I get impatient when "my" plans aren't happening as quickly as I would like. Or I get discouraged when "my" ministry isn't going the way I want it to go. It's a subtle shift in thinking, but over time it builds into an attitude that says, “Everything I have, belongs to me.”
The more I thought about that, the more I realized how much of my life I claimed ownership of - things like “my” relationships, as well as the physical things I own. This becomes dangerous because once we think something is ours, it quickly leads to a second attitude that says we can do what we want with the things that belong to us. But both of these perspectives and attitudes go against what the Bible clearly teaches us.
In Psalm 24:1 we read, “The earth is the Lord's, and everything it in. The world and all its people belong to Him.” What this passage makes clear is that we don't own anything. God owns everything. And since God owns everything, then He's the one who gets to decide what's done with it. So it's not “my” time that's getting used up - it's God’s. And it's not “my” plans that need to be carried out each day, it's God’s. And it's not “my” relationships that I'm involved in, they belong to God - which means they need to be used for His glory.
I know that at first it might seem like I'm just splitting linguistic hairs, but what I've learned over the many years I've lived is that words really do have meaning. And the more we use certain words, in certain ways, the more our attitudes can be formed and shaped to reflect the reality of what we're saying.
So, what does all of this mean to us? Does it mean we can never use the word “my” again? No, it doesn’t. It just means that each and every day, we need to begin our day with an attitude adjustment. We need to daily remind ourselves that ALL we have - our time, our relationships, our talents, our resources - belong to God, and therefore, we need to consciously commit them to His use. It may mean that we end up with a day full of “God interruptions”, as He puts His resources to work - but ultimately that will be a day well spent, doing what God has planned for us.