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What's Yours is Mine
November 17, 1974

St. Paul's United Methodist Church


If you have visited my study, you will have noticed that I am fond of posters. I lost a few of my favorites in moving, but one favorite still hangs on the wall. It pictures a calm, serene forest with a small waterfall in the foreground and fog in the background. But as I live in Manteca, fog is less than beautiful! The inscription reads, "We arrive in this world alone, we depart alone, this time called life was meant to share." Sharing what we have, what we are, how we feel, giving ourselves to God and to each other is really what life is all about. Privileged, happy are those who have learned to give, to open one's heart, arms, feelings, mind, and love to another—to share.

The story of Ruth, the warm, beautiful story of Ruth, illustrates this principle. We are on window IX, the last window before the second pillar. Ruth and Naomi are pictured with the inscription, "Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Years before, when there were hard times in Bethlehem, Naomi and her husband moved from Judah to Moab along with two sons. The sons married Ruth and Orpah. Death visited the family; Naomi’s husband and both sons died, leaving the three women all alone.

Naomi decided to move back home, to leave Moab. She urged her daughters-in-law to move back with their own families, and she would go to Bethlehem alone. She urged them to go home to their mothers and find a new husband, marry and make a new home. They wept and kissed. Orpah left, but not Ruth. Ruth clung to Naomi. At Naomi's urging to leave, Ruth responded with a plea to let her stay, to let her share Naomi’ s life. The biblical words are beautiful. “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.” Naomi relented and the two women went together to Bethlehem.

"This time called life was meant to share." Let's look at sharing. It is not enough for the preacher, Sunday School teacher or parent to admonish, to challenge the listeners to share: "Share what you have with God and others. Share what you are." We don't begin with giving. There is a prior step. You can’t share what you don’t have. Before we can get to the place of saying “What's mine is yours”, we must have received. We begin with receiving, then we share. We begin with a conscious awareness of what we have been given before we can respond to admonitions to share.

The Christian life begins with receiving--that is the meaning of the exodus, the covenant. God first acted. God first reached out to you. Our first response is to receive, then to share. But you can't share until you first realize all you have received. God has given you air to breathe, trees, mountains, etc., your mind, this nation to live in, abundant resources. You are among the most wealthy people in the world. You have been given love, family, friends. The list is endless.

Realize what you have and then share. Share with God. Share in his work. Share with others.

But there is more than just realizing what you have been given, what you have received. Ruth began with a claim. She asked for something. She declared her need of Naomi for well-being, security, love. Before Ruth could share, before she could say, “What’s mine is yours,”she first claimed, “What’s yours is mine.” "Your people shall be my people, your God will be my God. What's yours is mine. I claim it for my own. I ask to share in your life. I reach out to you, Naomi.” In the Christian life, in the covenantal relationship with God, we first realize all that God has given us, and how dependent we are upon him. But there is more. We have also been given the right to claim, to reach out to God, to assert, “What's yours is mine.”

In the moving, informative Swedish movie, “The Immigrants”, based on three books written by Moberg, 100 years ago Swedish immigrants arrived in this nation and pioneered Minnesota. The land was free and was settled, as was most of the midwest, under the Homestead Act. The movie very realistically and most warmly pictures the struggles of those early pioneers when they arrived in the new land, and then their joy when they roamed and surveyed to pick out their very own spot on the shores of Chisago Lake. They staked a claim to make it theirs. In this land, they were free to hunt, fish, pick berries, hike, drink the water. The land was a beautiful gift from God. They received it and were allowed the privilege to use it. But an even greater gift was theirs. They were allowed to stake a claim, to claim it as their own. What a dramatic moment in the movie, the culmination of the immigrants' long and difficult trip! After he has chosen his spot, he takes the axe, and cuts his mark in the tree making it his own. The land is his. He now shares it with God. Now he can cut into the soil, plow, plant and the earth shares with him as it produces.

God has given you much, but you need to do more than receive. You need to claim. Stake the claim, break the soil, plow into beautiful black earth. Make it yours. There are many bankrupt Christians who are hungry, who are empty because they have not claimed anything from God. Bankrupt and you can't give anything you don’t have. You can't share something you don't have. Too many Christians have just enough religion to make themselves miserable, just enough to make them feel guilty, unworthy, unhappy when not living up to capacity and their standards which, of course, is most of the time. They don’t have enough religion.They have not claimed and gone deep enough with the Lord to have joy, freedom, spontaneity, forgiveness, creativity. Enough religion to be miserable, but not enough to be happy.

Look at the claims we can stake. Claim the promise Jesus made, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Don't be content with offs and ons, ups and downs. Claim the deep assurance, underlying, undergirding every day's events, that Christ is with you. Plow into that field just laying there waiting for your claim; waiting for you to claim “What’s yours is mine."

What about the promise Jesus made, "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will?” Claim that promise. Make it yours. But be careful because God answers. Be careful. If you pray, "Make me pure”, God may answer that prayer and then what! Be careful. If you pray "Show me how to serve you”, he may answer and then what! Prayer is dynamite. It will change your life.

There are so many promises to claim. There is fertile land waiting for you to claim. Don't just skip along on the top. Stake a claim, break the soil, go deep into the Holy Spirit, discover the rich, life-changing, renewing resources of God's grace. He is there, waiting. Don't be content with just receiving. Take some risks. Be adventurous. Take some steps. Make some decisions. Stake some claims on the power of God to move in your life.Ruth staked a claim on Naomi and Naomi accepted it. They went to Bethlehem and shared a life together. Ruth began with a claim and she soon moved to sharing. In Bethlehem she took upon herself the responsibility of supporting the two of them. She gleaned in the grain fields. A gleaner was allowed to pick up any grain they could find after the field hands were through. Some of the ranchers in our area allow peo­ple from town to glean the tomato fields after they are harvested. Ruth did the same, along with others, except that for Ruth it was her only source of income. While gleaning, she met a rich relative of Naomi's who owned the field. Like a t-v soap opera, they were married and lived happily ever after.The book closes with an observation of how much Ruth had given to Naomi. It was said that Naomi received love and support from Ruth, as if she were her own family. In fact, it says "Your daughter-in-law loves you and is more to you than seven sons." Seven in the Bible often means countless. Ruth staked a claim. Then she was able to share.

What do you have to share? What do you have to give? We are in our Financial Campaign for 1975. Our faith is a very practical faith. The biblical religion is not theoretical, vague and abstract. We usually know where we stand. The Bible says money can cause us a lot of trouble if we do not handle it correctly. Your financial resources are to be used for you to live your life and for you to share with the world. The Bible even tells yoμ what that share should be—10%. You have received a copy of the 1975 budget which calls for a 28% increase over 1974, and you can see by reports in the bulletin and in the newsletter we are not making the 1974 budget.The economic, job, financial situations in the country are not good. If our church is to make it this next year, if we are to have the programs we feel we need to have an effective ministry in Manteca and throughout the world; and if we are going to have the staff we feel is necessary to make our church strong, we are going to go the way of faith and risk. As each of us decide in faith what God wants us to do—not sharing our bounty, but sharing what we need to share—I invite you to claim the promise that if you give generously and in joy, God will bless you. Take a step at a time. I don’t know anyone who can jump to 10% in one year, but perhaps you can take a one percent a year jump. What is your percentage giving now? Figure it out and raise it one percent. Make a plan whereby you increase annually until you are where you should be. Take some steps. Move out.Remember the promise made by Paul which was read in our New Testament lesson this morning, ”God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.  He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for generosity."Claim the promise. Increase your financial giving. God will enrich and provide you with blessings in abundance. Take some risks. Be adventurous!

© 1974 Douglas I. Norris