Popeye had a saying that was surprisingly Biblical. He said, “I yam what I yam.” Translation, “I am what I am.” The Biblical reference… 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am…” Now let’s think for a little bit.
I recently read: “I have to own my own stuff.” That hit me like a proverbial lightening bolt. We all have stuff… I have stuff and so do you. This “stuff” is who we are because of what we’ve done and/or experienced. None of us are free from a bag full of “stuff.” Part of our “stuff” is the result of our dysfunction (Note: We are ALL dysfunctional, it’s just a matter of degree and what our dysfunction is). We all have character flaws… failures… idiosyncrasies… habits irritating to others… without exception (Which mean you and I are in the same boat on this!). I’m coming to the conclusion that there is one thing that separates us into two categories: 1) Those who are comfortable in their skin with who they are regarding their stuff, and 2) Those who either are blind, ignore, or think they hide their “stuff” from everyone else effectively… are secretly miserable… and it shows.
Example: Some people are proud of their stuff even though it is offensive to others. There was a lady I knew over ten years ago who prided herself in saying, “If you don’t want to know what I think then don’t ask me because I WILL tell you!” But the problem was that she spoke her mind about everything without anyone asking. She wounded many in the process. Seems she forgot Ephesians 4:29. She had stuff in her life that resulted in many offenses…
Looking back through the last couple of decades of my life, I’m coming to accept who and what I am. I’m trying to own my own stuff. I can’t blame anyone else for my stuff… how I’ve acted as a result of my stuff… or the difficulties that have resulted from my stuff. The best thing I can do is “own my own stuff,” and try to address it all in a manner that doesn’t wound others and then do my best to glorify God each day.
Some stuff is overt, some is subtle. Some stuff are wounds from others, some are the wounds we inflicted on ourselves. Some of our stuff is just the way we are wired, others result from choices we’ve made. But bottom line… sooner or later… we have to “own our own stuff.” Then there is the spiritual aspect of our “stuff” as found in 1 Cor 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am…” But we must be careful how we understand 1 Cor 15:10! In no way should anyone blame God for “the way they are” or their “stuff” when it contradicts love, kindness, mercy, compassion, or Godliness!
Consider the Scripture…
1 Cor 7:7 Each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
1 Cor 12:4 There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.
The grace of God wires us certain ways: Gregarious v quiet. Extrovert v introvert. Gifted in one area or another and to whatever degree God wills. Even then no person should just accept who they are because “It’s who I am” and thus not to be worked on. As Paul further wrote in 1 Cor 15:10…
By the grace of God I am what I am… and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, THOUGH IT WAS NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD THAT IS WITH ME.
Whatever our gifts from God are, we should work diligently to enhance and improve them. Whatever “stuff” we’ve imported into our life is that contradicts the fruit of the Spirit, we are to work passionately to transform ourselves to the image of Christ. Giving Him all the glory, because if He didn’t work in us we couldn’t do anything on our own!
I’m not going to confess my “stuff” to you nor do I want you to tell me what you think my stuff is! I’ve got enough to work on that is being revealed to me by The Spirit. What I WILL DO is ask you to take a risk by “Owning your own stuff.” Here it is step by step:
- Ask God to reveal to you your “stuff.” (Otherwise you will deceive yourself!)
- Look back at times you’ve had trouble in relationships and answer honestly… “What did I contribute to that?”
- Ask your spouse and/or closest friend to tell you what they think one or two of your “things” are (Stuff).
- Make a list of your “stuff.” You might want to limit the list to 10 for a while (We all have many more than that!).
- Ask God to help you address your “stuff” and bring them in line with the Fruit of The Spirit. (NOTE: That may mean making amends… asking for forgiveness… risking your perceived reputation… tracking people down to do the right thing… and… SWALLOWING YOUR PRIDE.)
The question is: Are we serious enough about becoming more like Christ that we: 1) Own our own stuff, and 2) Work on our stuff so as to glorify God rather than causing others to stumble.