“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”


I was once watching television and saw a show called Made. Its goal was to take obscure, ordinary people and provide a platform for them to establish acclaim for themselves. They would find a way to distinguish themselves, so that they could be considered themselves Made, that is somebody. On another show, I saw a rapper who had   s e l f   m a d e  tatooed on his fingers that when he fists you saw the words when his arms were pointed toward camera. Over and over, I read and I see people claiming that they are were they are and have what they have because they did it. They too are self-made.

In contrast to that, I had a high school teacher, Mrs. C. Brown, who shared a picture of a turtle on top of one pole of a fence. Post-Turtle-112103222461She asked us to look at the picture for a few minutes and write down how the turtle got there. Unfortunately and unwittingly, we struggled to provide an answer. She began to solicit responses from the class, but before she did, she prefaced that we were seniors and should consider the picture’s meaning as we embarked on life. She also ended our agony. She told us the turtle did not climb up there himself or herself. Someone put the turtle up there. She told us that when we found ourselves in an elevate position or on top to remember that others had a hand in our accomplishment. Essentially, Mrs. Brown was saying we did not do anything by ourselves. We were not s e l f   m a d e.  The real message was that “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”

At that time, I did not think much about it; however, I really understood what she said as I entered places in my life where that poignant point was applicable. More importantly, I see that revealed in the Word of God. In John 3, John the Baptist said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” Let’s turn to the Word to see the context.

22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.

25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”

27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John understood the principles of God. John had the Right Path and Right Perspective. He was aware that Jesus is supreme; yet, God gave him an opportunity to participate in what God had purposed and was doing in this world. John understood that the ministry he had was given to him from God. There was no need for him to be upset, feel bad or even challenge Jesus because God gave him his place and that Jesus has come from heave, is above all, has seen and heard God, and testifies to those things. John realized that Jesus was supreme, but the message to them and to us is that we must recognize the position, place, and power we have comes from God. There is no need of becoming competitive about who is better or greater. It all comes from God.

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” If we were to truly understand this truth, we would not be jealous, envious, covetous or sinful when someone has a place, position or possession greater than ours. We must stand in the truth of God. Do you think that you are self-made or do you realize “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”?

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