Have you ever accidentally seen a surprise gift meant for you ahead of time? It happened to me when I was 8 years old. I was talking with my mom in her bedroom and noticed a large box in her closet. The name on the box said “Atari.” I screamed, “Mom, is that my Christmas present?” She quickly clarified, “No, that is for your older brother.” I was very disappointed.
As Christmas approached, I saw the large box wrapped next to the Christmas tree with no name tag on it. I wisely assumed that my parents had not put my brother’s name on the box to prevent him from guessing its contents. But on Christmas morning, my mom grabbed the box and placed it on my lap! I shouted, “No, this is my brother’s gift!” She explained, “Actually, this is your gift.”
I couldn’t believe it. No, literally. I couldn’t believe it. I began to argue with my mother that the gift was not mine, but indeed my brother’s. For weeks I had prepared myself for a mediocre Christmas, and to watch my brother enjoy the gift rather than me. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how the gift was actually for me!
We often fall into this same trap with our hand-me-down Christian faith. For many of us, our faith was passed down to us from a parent, grandparent, Pastor, or neighbor. And how thankful we are for that! God intends His believers to share the Good News with others.
But sometimes we are slow to take true possession and ownership of our faith. We might rest upon King David’s faith, or our grandma’s faith, and fail to realize that God is big enough to have a personal and individual relationship with each of us. When we live off another person’s faith, our walk with the Lord can understandably become stale and feel like a chore. We are not living out the plan He has set for us.
The apostle Paul instructs us to work out our own salvation, and it is God who works in us. How beautiful is that! God does the work in us! Our job is to work it out with Him! Not someone else’s faith, but our own. After my mom had clarified that Christmas morning the purpose of her little white lie, I quickly enjoyed the video game that was meant for me. I was quick to share with others the gift I had received.
As believers, we should be quick to share with others the amazing gift of salvation and abundant life we have received. When we live off someone else’s faith, or when we fail to engage with God working in us, our excitement can turn into a mediocre faith. God’s gift of salvation is always available to everyone, but it is the most powerful when you truly receive it for yourself.