1 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) – For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Almost every person lives as if they’ve achieved success by their own efforts and smarts. It is easy to do. We make efforts and achieve outcomes. We utilize strengths, gifts, and resources to do many different things. It is easy to conclude that all of this is because of how smart we are or how good our skills are. It is easy to adopt the myth of our own greatness.
Our passage today helps us avoid this narcissism. We read Paul’s words to the church in Corinth, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”
Think about Paul’s question. What do you have that you didn’t receive? The answer is: nothing. Everything we have was received. God gave us our intellect, health, gifts, family, and opportunities. Everything is received. Paul then argues that if we received it, rather than producing it, then how could we boast? How can we boast about something we were given? Again, the question is rhetorical: you can’t. Rather than boasting in ourselves we should boast in the grace and kindness of God.
How should this truth affect our lives? First, we should be very grateful people. Instead of letting ourselves grow prideful for our achievements or successes, we must be humble and grateful. Second, we learn to pray and ask for things we may not have or need. If God is the giver of everything we have, then we should pray more often about things we don’t yet have. Perhaps we need help learning a language or comprehending a book. We should ask. Everything is received. Remembering this helps aid us in prayer in opening our hands before the Benevolent King of the universe.
Reflection & Journal:
- What are some things in your life that you received from God?
- Why do we struggle to remember this truth in our lives?
- How should this text inform your life today?
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