Romans 14:7-8 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
This is an important truth, but there are many who would dispute it. We don’t like to admit we are property, that we belong to God. American culture in particular stresses individual autonomy, and this seems to fly in the face of that. That’s just evidence that America isn’t perfect, either! I have long maintained that suicide is a supremely selfish, or at least self-centered, act. All of us impact those around us, whether we realize it or not. When we are totally focused on our own pain we have great trouble recognizing how our death would affect others, or even why it matters. A recent tragic story in the news was of a young couple, both law officers. The husband had been in the military, and his PTSD from that caught up with him and he killed himself. Where it gets even more tragic is that his wife, in her grief at the loss of her husband, killed herself too – leaving behind a child less than a year old. Both of the adults in that needed to read this passage! This past Sunday I spoke on Relationships. It is of utmost importance that God created us as social beings, related and relating to one another, all on the basis of our relationship to Him, our heavenly Father. Paul is stressing that last fact here. Our relationship to God governs every other relationship in our lives. If the vertical is right, then the horizontal is much more likely to be right. It’s no coincidence that the cross is made up of a vertical piece and a horizontal piece. It’s also no accident that the vertical piece is longer. It is only when we have our vertical relationship to God straight that we can rightly relate to those on either side of us. We tend to think of people as either “above” or “below” us, particularly in Japanese society, but compared to God, every human being is on exactly the same level. It would take a scanning electron microscope to detect the bumps! We often fail to recognize our impact and influence on others, and that is a real problem. God intends that we be instruments of His grace and blessing to those around us. It is only when we fit into His plan for us that we achieve the peace and satisfaction we desire.
This naturally applies to me, just as it does to everyone else. As I confessed on Sunday, I’m not by nature a “people person.” However, being married to one of the most connected people on the planet for over 52 years has been very educational! I’ve been slow to learn it, but it has finally sunk in how much I need other people, and how God wants to use me in meeting their needs as well. I certainly still have my selfish, self-centered moments, but I’ve come a long way from how I once was. The acronym JOY – Jesus, Others, Yourself – seemed rather trite to me the first time I heard it, but there’s a lot of truth in it. As someone who belongs to the Lord, I need to be fully available to Him as an instrument of blessing to those around me, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the very full day yesterday, and for all You have planned for today. Help me recognize and follow Your plan each moment, not only to get done what’s on my schedule but to impact those around me as You intend, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!