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What's Yours is Mine
August 5, 1979

St. Paul's United Methodist Church


Naomi decided to return home—back to Bethlehem, back to Judah. She had lived in the land of Moab as a foreigner. When her husband died and her two sons died, she was left with two daughters-in-law, Orpha and Ruth. Naomi decided to go home and she released her daughters-in-law. Orpha decided to stay in in Mohab with her own people, but Ruth elected to go with Naomi and she made this very famous declaration that has been cherished and revered through many centuries. Reading from the King James Version which is the most beautiful translation, “Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.” Ruth said, “Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God.” Translated into very modern English, “What's yours is mine.” 

There were probably a variety of dynamics at play here. No doubt Ruth felt a loyalty to Naomi and needed to take care of her. She probably felt it was her duty. She had become part of Naomi's family. She had wedded one of Naomi's sons. And now she probably felt it was her duty, her loyalty, to go with Naomi and befriend her. No doubt there was a sense of caring, a sense of love and a sense of dependence on each other. They must have established a very beautiful, enduring relationship and it was tugging and pulling at Ruth. 

And there was probably the desire on Ruth’s part for security, for the need to belong somewhere. In the relationship with Naomi, she had a people, she had a family, and she claimed that what's yours is mine—your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Women had no status in that day. Women had no place. A widow, especially, was just tossed to the wolves. She had no security, no home, no one to take care of her. So clinging to Naomi gave Ruth a sense of security. It gave her a place to belong. 

When they got back to Bethlehem, they found work gleaming the fields of one of Naomi's relatives, and Ruth found marriage within that family. The claim of what's yours is mine is a legitimate claim. In any relationship, and especially the deeper the relationship, this claim must be included. What's yours is mine comes before we can say what's mine is yours. A marriage relationship would be very shaky indeed if there wasn't the feeling, the claim that what's yours is now mine. What you have been, I am now part of. All the values and dreams, all that you've come out of is now part of me. I claim it as mine. What's yours is mine. 

And then, what's mine is yours. Certainly the essence of the Christian life is sharing and giving—what’s mine is yours. But to be able to give, one must know how to receive. One must first experience the claim that what's yours is mine. It's like a lake with an inlet and an outlet. The lake is fresh, clean and moving, but you take away the outlet, you take a lake that only has an inlet and no outlet, that lake soon floods its banks in its selfishness. In its desire to keep everything it has, it distorts and destroys itself in the process, and all the land around. 

You take a lake that has no inlet, that only is giving all the time and you have a lake that dries up. It becomes empty, becomes a desert. A lot of church people, like a lot of people who serve and work, have the great temptation to give and give until they become dry. Then the well grows dry without an inlet. Whether we lose ourselves in our job or lose ourselves in our community work with no inlet, we dry up. 

Likewise, a lake with neither an inlet nor an outlet becomes green, mossy, smelly, and eventually will turn to salt. So the ideal stance of a Christian life is to receive and give, to practice what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours. The Ruth story underlines and dramatizes that it is very correct, it is very proper, it is even essential that you and I claim for ourselves what’s yours is mine. Lack of joy and vitality, lack of meaning happens when we do not fully lay claim to all that God has and do not become heirs and inheritors of God. Paul wrote that we are heirs, and to be heirs is to lay claim. Lay claim on all that God is and all that God has. A lack of power, a lack of evidence of the Spirit is due partly because we have not laid claim to all that God has. God can hardly do more than asked. The size of the inlet determines the amount of what is received. God can hardly overrule our wills. God can hardly pour out more than we are able and ready to hold. So open up the claims. We limit God by not claiming. 

I think it was the Downeyville Methodist Church that worshiped for years in a building right over a goldmine unknown to the members. But, some enterprising miner tunneled under the church and took the gold, while the church on the top of the ground, didn’t realize they were sitting on a goldmine. They hadn't dug deeply enough. How often we forget we're sitting on a goldmine. We don't dig deeply enough. We don't lay claim. We don't take all that God has for us. 

Today we celebrate Communion and from now on, once a month. The Board has voted to celebrate Communion once a month and take a step forward In ministry. In Communion, we will eat the bread and the juice, the very life of Jesus Christ, broken for you, and poured out for you. As we celebrate Communion, as we eat, lay claim to God and say, “God, what’s yours is mine”. Lay claim to Christ’s promise, “Lo, I am with you always. I'm with you everywhere.” Claim that promise. There is no place you can go that Christ isn't there. 

Psalm 139, 

Whether I ascend to heaven, or whether I go into the grave, God is there. 

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

God is there. There’s no place you can go where God is not. Claim the promise that the presence of Christ is always with you. Our security, our place, where we belong is in Jesus Christ. All fear is cast out. All loneliness should be cast out. Feelings that I don't quite belong, that I don't really fit here, that I don't know what I'm about, that I don't know why and when I do— cast that all out and lay claim to the promise that Christ is with you. The power of Christ is with you. Lay claim as we receive Communion today to Christ’s salvation. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” That's the promise. Lay claim to that promise. We come before God today not only in the name of Jesus, but in the very life of Jesus, in his very body and in his very blood. We lay claim to salvation, to forgiveness. Lay claim to all that is within you that needs to be forgiven—all the people you've hurt and all the people who have hurt you. Think of all the people at whom you're angry, or you bear a grudge, or you're resentful. Let the healing, soothing, forgiving love of God surround, cleanse and purify. Lay claim  that whenever you call upon the name of the Lord, you will be freed, will be saved, will be forgiven. 

Salvation means wholeness. In Hebrew psychology, there was no separation between our bodies and our minds and our souls like we do. A person was looked on as a unity. Salvation means a unity and a wholeness and a right relationship with God in our body, our minds and in our soul. Lay claim, “I came that you might have life,”says Jesus, “and have it abundantly.” 

Father McNutt, a Roman Catholic priest, increasingly known for his success in healing, wrote, 

The churches have long known the power of Christ to forgive sins, but what I realize with increased intensity is that: 

1) Our physical sickness, far from being a redemptive blessing, is often a sign that we are not redeemed, not whole at a spiritual level. 

2) Physical healing often requires first a forgiveness of sin or an inner healing. 

3) The most important repentance is of bitterness or resentment, sins which Christians often do not recognize as sins in themselves.

4) Again, love is the best remedy to break through the coldness, the hurt, the bitterness that block God’s healing power from flowing into us.

There is a correlation between the way we feel and the way you think. There’s a correlation between the ugly stuff in you—resentment, bitterness, unforgiving attitudes—and the way you feel, for you are a unity. 

Lay claim to the power of God and say to God, “What's yours is mine.” As Ruth laid claim to all that Naomi had and all that Naomi was, let us claim Christ’s  presence with us. As we eat and drink of his life, as we remember how he loved us and how he died for us, let us claim his presence as one of God's own heirs.

© 1979 Douglas I. Norris