What is that to you? – A lesson from C. S. Lewis

The C. S. Lewis Quote

The Weight of GloryWalter Hooper writes this anecdote in his introduction to The Weight of Glory about an interaction he had with C. S. Lewis:

‘I told Lewis that I was tempted – very strongly tempted – to tell Our Lord that I thought it monstrously unfair that He should allow the naughty old atheist to seemingly go on forever and yet let Lewis, who was only sixty-four, come so close to the point of death. ‘Mind you,’ I said, observing Lewis’s face cloud over, ‘I haven’t actually said it in my prayers, but I’ve come pretty close.’

And what do you think our Lord would say to that?’ Lewis said with a discouraging look.


‘What is that to you!’

Anyone who had read John 21:22 – Our Lord’s rebuke to St. Peter – will recognise Lewis’ application of it in this instance.

Mr. Hooper goes on to write that Lewis would do what he could to improve a situation but trust the outcome to God. Once he had trusted it to God, Lewis would not give it another thought. In other words, Lewis had a good sense of boundaries and where his responsibility was at an end.

The Lesson

This is a lesson that I struggle to learn. Too often I stew about things over which I have no control. Sometimes it goes beyond stewing and I try to affect change in a situation where my input is not required or wanted. I should have already learned this lesson because it always goes badly when I go beyond the boundary.

At it’s core, my inability to know my boundaries stems from a lack of faith in God. I lack faith either¬†because I distrust God’s goodness or I doubt his desire to make this situation right. When I worry about thongs which are beyond my control I show the weakness of my faith.

“What is that to you?” is the correct question to ask.

If God allows a bad situation that is beyond my ability to fix, what is that to me? If someone else gets a reward or position that he did not deserve, what is that to me? If a candidate for whom I did not vote gets into office, what is that to me? If someone says something about me that is not true, what is that to me?

Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6 that God will complete what he has started. We also learn from Paul’s experience of the thorn in the flesh that God uses circumstances to teach us what we need to learn to progress in holiness.

Do I really trust God or do I merely pay him lip service? When I try to affect change outside of my God given sphere of  responsibility, then I prove that I am doing the latter.