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It's All Mine


 


 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.

Jim Elliot


Simon splashed and swam in the ocean.


After stepping out of the salty water, the five-year-old boy stood before his mother, shielding his eyes from the fiery sun.


The mother pulled from her big blue beach bag five pieces of taffy—Simon’s favorite candy—and proceeded to hand him the colorful treats. He danced and tiptoed in the soft sand. His brown eyes swelled in size, his stomach ready to consume.


“Here’s what I want you to do, Simon,” she began. “I want you to give one piece of taffy to your brother, one to your sister, and one to each of your two cousins. Afterward, you can keep one for yourself.”


Wait, Simon thought. What?! ONLY one?! 


“Now,” his mom continued, “if you do this, Simon, I’ll surprise you with something really special.”


Simon’s eyes shrunk to slits, his chin falling to his chest. He didn’t care what the surprise was—he wanted all five pieces of taffy for himself!


He studied the candy in his hand, considering and contemplating his next move. At length, with an idea having formed in his mind, Simon ran off. Fifty yards down the beach, the boy built a sandcastle. Minutes later, he hid all five pieces of taffy inside the sandcastle and ran back to his mother.


“All done!” Simon exclaimed, a smile written across his face, while his posture was like that of a soldier at attention.


“Really, Simon?” the mother questioned with a mom-kind-of-look. “You gave everyone their piece of taffy?”

 

“Yep, sure did! I’m ready for the surprise.”

 

What Simon didn’t realize is that mothers know everything, and his mom was no exception. She’d watched him the whole time, knowing exactly what he’d done.

 

“No, Simon, you didn’t.” She paused, breathed, and shook her head slowly. “I watched you. And it’s unfortunate you didn’t listen, because now you’re going to miss out on the special surprise.”

 

Naturally, Simon’s face turned hot, as he awkwardly shifted his weight back and forth on his sunburnt feet. His smile faded. While he felt guilty, he felt much worse when his mom revealed the surprise.

 

Pulling the surprise out of her beach bag, his mother held a silver bucket filled to the brim with colorful pieces of taffy. “Simon,” she said, “I was going to let you access and possess all of this…if you would have only listened to me and given away those four pieces of taffy as I told you.”

 

He felt bad. He felt sad. There was nothing to say.


But then Simon had a lightbulb moment. He sprinted away and headed towards his sandcastle. At least I still have five pieces of taffy, he told himself. Mom can’t take those away!


However, the five-year-old boy didn’t realize that the tide had been coming in and that he’d built his castle too close to the water. When he arrived, his castle was gone…and so was the taffy.


In the end, Simon was left with nothing.


 

Within this story is a reminder that we are to be “rich back towards God” (Luke 12:13-21), that we are to “honor him with our wealth” (Proverbs 3:9a).


"Okay, but what does that mean?"

 

For starters, wealth refers to anything in our possession. The dollars and cents in our pocket, bank account, or investments—our money and resources. The hours, minutes, or seconds of our days—our time. The spouse, children, or friends—our relationships. The house, car, or toys—our possessions. We are to honor the Lord with our taffy, so to speak, with all that we say is ours.

 

Honor, meanwhile, in the context of the proverb, does not mean what we might initially think it means. The word carries with it the idea of heaviness. That is, this kind of honor means “to carry a weight, load, or burden” (BDB). The imagery is simple. We are to put the entire load of everything we possess on the Lord, transferring the whole weight onto him.

 

"Yeah, okay, but why would we do that?"

 

Because, what the scriptures are saying is that we must first and foremost acknowledge a foundational, timeless truth: it all belongs to him already. Everything belongs to the Lord. Our resources, time, relationships—all of it—belong first and foremost to the Lord. The taffy in our hands, if you will, was given to us by him. Again…everything in our possession belongs first and foremost to the Lord.

 

We are not owners. We are stewards.

 

A steward is a person who oversees, governs, or manages another’s property or financial affairs, according to basic definitions. Consider, for example, the beginning of it all. In Genesis, we discover that humanity (created/made by God) was to work the land (created/made and given by God) and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). That is, humans were to be stewards of God's world. It’s why the Lord later says, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, because every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:9-10). Literally, “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, in Deuteronomy 8:17-18, the Lord warns, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…”

 

In other words, you may tell yourself, "The taffy in my hands is mine—all mine—and I'm going to do whatever I want with it!" Yet, remember who gave you the taffy. Remember who gave you all that you have and the ability to get all that you have. Remember that you're not an owner. You're a steward.


 

Wisdom comes when we acknowledge that everything belongs to the Lord. Folly comes when we falsely believe that everything belongs to us. It follows, therefore, that being a wise steward comes when we handle, manage, and steward what he has given us in the way he wants us to handle, manage, or steward it. Being a foolish steward comes when we handle, manage, and steward what he has given us in the way we want to handle, manage, or steward it.

 

Which begs the question. Are we handling, managing, and stewarding our resources, time, and relationships wisely or foolishly? Are we doing with our wealth what he’s asked us to do with our wealth? Or, have we buried our taffy in a sandcastle, so to speak, falsely believing that it was all ours to begin with and that we can—and should—do whatever we want with it?


For the wise stewards, those who honor the Lord with their wealth and who are rich back towards God with all that they possess, they will find, in the end, that they have access and possession to a silver bucket brimming with everlasting peace, promise, and prosperity. They will, in essence, "freely give what they cannot keep, to gain what they cannot lose."


For the foolish stewards, those who don’t honor the Lord with their wealth and who are not rich back towards God with all that they possess, they will find, in the end, that they foolishly hid their "taffy" in a castle built too close to the water and that the tide has come and taken everything away. In the end, they will be left with nothing. As Jesus said, "So it will be with anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich back towards God" (Luke 12:21).


So...what will we do with all that God has given us?


We're not owners. We're stewards.


Whether or not we're wise or foolish is up to us.

 

JDG


 

 

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