A fellow pastor recently shared with me what he called “The Toddler’s Top Ten Rules for Sharing”.
- If I like it, it’s mine.
- If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
- If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
- If I had it a little while ago, it’s still mine.
- If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
- If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
- If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.
- If I saw it first, it’s mine.
- If you are playing with something and put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
- If it’s broken, it’s yours.
We laugh, but do we ever really outgrow our childish selfishness? We like to think we’re generous people. We help the less fortunate. We give to Helping Hands. We give to Goodwill.
But what do we give to Helping Hands and Goodwill? We give them the old, broken stuff we don’t want anymore. We give them the things which take up precious storage space in our closets and garages. Then we pat ourselves on the back for our prodigious generosity.
When was the last time, however, you went to the store and bought new clothes or furniture to give to Helping Hands or Goodwill? When was the last time you gave more than what was left over?
This last weekend I went to our local Relay for Life. I bought a bunch of raffle tickets. I felt pretty good about myself as I carefully read through the list of prizes I could possibly win. Is that what it means to be generous?
Don’t get me wrong. I hope you give your hand-me-downs to Helping Hands and Goodwill. I hope you support charities like the Relay for Life by buying raffle tickets. But don’t think that makes you Mother Theresa.
Living in this country, we are wealthier than over 90% of the world. Experts estimate that roughly 100 billion people have lived throughout the course of history. You are richer than just about every single one. Think about it. Even the wealthiest people who lived in past centuries didn’t enjoy the comforts and luxuries modern technology affords us today.
God has blessed us by allowing us to be numbered among the richest people who have ever lived. With that wealth, however, comes a tremendous temptation. The more we have, the more we want. The more we have, the more tightly we hold on to it. The more we have, the less we tend to share.
If you think you don’t struggle with selfishness or materialism, I will say to you what Jesus once said to a wealthy man who had deluded himself into thinking he had lived a perfect life of love: Sell everything you have and give it to the poor. Then come talk to me.
Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Thankfully we have a generous God who gave up the riches and opulence of heaven to be born in a barn. Jesus literally gave until it hurt. He sacrificed everything for us. He suffered God’s anger for our selfishness, for our materialism – for all the times we held onto our toys and cried, “It’s mine.”
Because he did, we are forgiven forever. We have a home waiting for us in heaven, where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are made of pearl.
Seeing God’s overwhelming generosity to you, knowing you have the riches of heaven waiting for you, and understanding you can’t take any of this with you when you die, be truly generous.
Give it all away. Give until it hurts. Give as God has given to you.