Written by Paul J. Bucknell on May, 28, 2019
Exceptionalism Begins in Our Hearts (John 3:27)
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)
Many people struggle with those things that they do not possess. They insist, at least to themselves, that if they had what others have, they would be better off. Sometimes they wish for wealth, personal giftings, talents, inheritance, position, or opportunity. Once a person logs into the channel of desire, it leads to a preoccupation of want, and everything one does rotates about securing those things that he has convinced himself that he needs. Many people unknowingly step into an unbalanced lifestyle once they accept this foible mindset. “Workaholism” being one of these traps.
A Better Way
John the Baptist starts the other way around. He begins with his heart and contentment and strengthens his values by faithfully using what he has for God’s purposes. Instead of getting lost in the delusion of one’s importance, he rightly concludes that what we have is enough—always. The world’s wants, desires, and pride create painful marks (1 John 2:15-16), but God’s kingdom finds reward by trusting God’s purposes for our lives. If God wanted us to do more, then He would have otherwise situated us. My web ministry, for example, began just as the web was opening up to the world back in 2000. It was an opportune time for me which was not possible in the previous millenniums or even in my college days.
John the Baptist’s disciples spoke worriedly on how an increasing number of people were now being baptized by Jesus and His disciples. John the Baptist first had to learn how to share his popularity with Jesus and then increasingly accept his decrease in fame. John’s statement (John 3:27) reveals how he was able to handle this decline. John convincingly taught about God’s interworkings in this world. We see this here in John 3:27. His inner peace came from this proper perspective of God and himself.
What we have is enough—always!
Opportunity is a temporary calling of God; it comes and goes. Even David at one point became weary, and his men no longer permitted him to go out and fight (2 Sam 21:15-18). God is involved in our life situations—not only in the lives of important government officials but in our very families and friends, whether they are prosperous or impoverished. God shapes both us and our life appointments. The secret of a full life is to always be content faithfully using what He gives us to please Him and serve others.
A Larger Perspective
The verse John 3:27 easily refutes Deism assertion that God, once having set the world in motion, is no longer involved in this world. God is, John asserts, completely involved with what every man receives. John’s significant words “from heaven” indicate God clearly dictates the way people receive things by the way He distributes our gifts and giftings.
John rejects the loud voice of the world by allowing God’s giftings to govern his expectations. Everything is wrapped up in the word “nothing.” All that we have comes from God (“heaven”).
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)
Nor do we need to be preoccupied with taking what belongs to others and redistribute it in what we see as equal portions. God has taken that liberty in His original distribution. True, we can voluntarily take what we have and give it to the needy, but that is our choice under God’s direction. But still, whether we have enough to give or are placed on the opposite side in need of a gift from others, God still powerfully calls us to be content with our positions. Don’t neglect the gifts as if unimportant—they are from God! But neither should one boast about those things we have. This gifting, whether found in beauty, position, or intelligence, is not innately found in strength or inheritance but part of God’s overall distribution. So our situation in life must accompany a proper view of God’s honorable allocation to secure a contented heart and directed life. Our specific drives and purposes of life should build upon a clear assessment of our “givens” so that we can accountably serve God’s purposes with them. Be not concerned with what God withholds, but prioritize using what He has given you. The Books of Joshua and Judges highlight our responsibilities as believers through the allotment of land given each tribe and how they then utilize it. John speaks about this greater life “allotment” here in John 3.
Our trust in God allows us to start now where we are.
Contentment comes, then, by honoring God in our acceptance of our lives and how He has equipped us. This becomes the strong starting point for our lives, the birth of maturity. By closely availing ourselves to that which God has given us, we become more responsible, faithfully utilizing our assets. Their presence, in many ways, becomes key components to direct our lives. By accepting (not complaining about) this distribution, we become accountable and committed stewards to God, being responsible for our lives in light of God’s expectations rather than trying to be envious of others. This calling becomes an open acknowledgment before God that we are here to please our Maker with our lives and with those opportunities that He sets before us. We can be fully content with our unique persons and yet be diligently using what we have to make a difference in our given circumstances.
John’s insight reveals the huge gap between contentment and want. Contentment accepts one’s starting point in life and goes from there proving oneself through the way he uses his gifting. I seek and trust God to give what I need to serve Him. My drive consists of my dedication to carefully use what the Lord has given me rather than trying to be someone else. Exceptionalism, then, begins in our hearts, enabling us to excel at using what he has given us to bring glory to His Name.
John 3:27 Study Questions
- What does John refer to in John 3:27? Read the context as needed.
- What does “nothing” refer to?
- What does “given him from heaven” infer about our lives?
- How might John use the theology in this truth to handle temptations of jealousy, pride, and covetousness?
- Do you believe “a man” describes how God equips everyone or just some people like John? Explain.
- Since God took effort to outfit us for His service, how should this shape the way we treat our opportunities?
- Consider one or two places of discontent. Confess your sins but then give thanks for what He has given to you.
- God has given people many things like skills, personality, wealth, beauty, opportunities, position, health, connections, and giftings. List at least three that God has given you. How are you faithfully seeing these as an opportunity?
- Many today despise the gift of married couples to have children. A huge societal problem has come about due to couples not having children Shall we not consider this gifting as a key opportunity for couples? Explain.