We are but stewards, not lords

guardheartsnoopy

Back when my wife and I hadn’t been together for very long we stopped at a Mcdonald’s to grab a bite to eat. We both got different things as usual. My wife decided she would like a bite of my quarter pounder so she asked politely, which I proceeded to reject her request. She thought I was joking at first until I looked at her with a very serious expression. Well, my wife has never let me live down this humorous, yet good example of selfishness. By the way, I share all of my food with her now when she asks.

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  Luke 6:30-31 ESV

One of the character traits my wife and I work on a lot with our children is the desire to share what we have with others. It’s obvious to any parents that we are not engrained with this attribute from birth. Many never learn it in a lifetime. It is one of the most difficult traits to instill in someone because it fights against every bit of our fallen nature. From the moment we’re born until we breathe our last, the struggle is real when it comes to emptying ourselves of selfishness and pride. We walk around with a scarcity mindset like there just isn’t enough in this world to go around I have to get mine or else I’ll be left out. We’ve all been guilty of it. Granted, some are more predisposed than others to generosity but no one is predisposed to selflessness. Even the kindest and most generous people battle with this.

A phrase that I often use with my children, and try to live by myself, is that if we aren’t willing to share something we have then we don’t deserve to have it in the first place. Every time they hold back their toys I gently remind them of this. We are stewards of our possessions, not owners. One of my favorite movie serious is the Lord of the Rings. In the final installment, the wizard Gandalf rides to the great city of Ministereth. This city had been without a king for many years and was controlled by the Steward of Gondor.  Gandalf and the Steward have several choice words because Lord Denethor (the Steward) is a power-hungry snob who has lost sight of his purpose. As the vocal match draws to an end Gandalf looks him straight in the eye and says, “Authority is not given to you to deny the return of the King, Steward!”

Far too often we approach our possession in the same manner as Lord Denethor. God has placed us as stewards over this world and over the people and things in our lives. We don’t own our spouse, or our children, or our things. What we have is meant to be cared for not controlled. We can’t walk through this life with white knuckles, grasping so tightly onto things. In First Corinthians chapter four, Paul reminds us that we have nothing that was not first given to us. That logic can be applied to every single thing we have. Even if we purchased something, it was done with money that was given to us through the job, gift, or inheritance that was given to us. Nothing is ours simply by our own will and effort. There is grace in all we have. And that grace should not be trampled under feet by selfishness.

Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single thing I own that I would not share with another. Some things would be more difficult to share than others. Also, I am not saying I would share everything with everyone. I obviously wouldn’t let some sketchy dude borrow one of my guns or sleep in my house. We have to use wisdom. However, we are called to share with even the bad people in life.

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42 ESV

There is sharing…and then there is sharing. We can let people borrow stuff we aren’t using or give away things that we no longer want. And those things are good. Great even. I think God is pleased with all sharing. But there is a type of sharing that is divine in nature. A type of sharing that costs us something. This is the supreme form of sharing that we should all aspire to. It’s choosing to give others preference. It’s allowing others to use, or even have, things that you still want. It is nothing less than an expression of love. And some take it to the extreme by choosing to lay down their own lives for others. According to God, this is the greatest expression of love. An expression that He Himself showed on the cross of Calvary. As we evaluate our lives from time to time, we need to remember that we are but stewards and not lords.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

 

You can’t share something you don’t have

genuine

One night, my four year old daughter refused to let me leave her room because she was afraid. It was bedtime, and for those of you with children, you know that bedtime can be a challenge. I’m convinced that children are born with the innate ability to negotiate. All of a sudden they are starving, or dying of thirst, have an urgent need to go to the bathroom, or just have to be with you. The routine is often the same in homes across the globe. But occasionally, our children are genuinely scared and need our consolation. There are those moments when fear and loneliness stir their precious little hearts. That was the case for my daughter on that particular evening.

“Daddy, please don’t leave my room,” my daughter says.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked.

“I’m afraid!”, she responds.

“What are you afraid of?” I inquired.

She paused for a brief few seconds and said, “I don’t know…I…I just don’t want to be alone. I’m scared.”

From there I had to assess whether or not she was sincere or just postponing the inevitable moment that she would have to succumb to sleep. I truly believe she was really shaken that night. I didn’t know why. She couldn’t explain it. We hadn’t watched any movies that could’ve scared her, and her day was very ordinary. But she was scared, and that’s what mattered.

For the next 5 to 10 minutes I tried to calm my daughter’s fears by reminding her that she is never alone. I told her that mommy and daddy are in a room not too far from hers. More importantly, I tried to get her to see that Jesus is always present in her life. Have you ever tried explaining that to a toddler? It’s extremely difficult. But I did my best and then we prayed together. I told her I loved her and we called it a night.

When I left her room I was overwhelmed by what had just happened. My daughter’s struggle with fear and loneliness is not all that unlike adult struggles with the same issues. We may not squirm and fuss like a toddler does. No, we’ve gotten much better at keeping it inside. We get afraid, often of our own imaginations. And loneliness hits everyone and some point and time. We’re made to be relational beings which makes being alone really difficult sometimes, especially if we never learned to cope.

What I prayed for my daughter, and what I tried to tell her, was that our hearts can rest at peace. That we never have to be afraid. That joy can fill our minds and our hearts at all times. Then it hit me. Do I even experience that? Am I trying to tell me daughter to have something I don’t even have? Am I at peace? Do I have unspeakable joy continually in my heart? It was challenging…extremely challenging.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Philippians 4:6-7 (CEV)

When it comes down to it, I can spout out bible verses like the one above, all day long and give my daughters consoling pep talks about their security, love, and acceptance in Christ. But if I’m not showing them those truths by my attitude and how I carry myself…well then, it’s potentially very empty. Our children are likely to forget most of the things we say to them, but they will always remember how we affected them.

If I don’t feel accepted and cared for by Jesus, then I can’t expect them, or anyone else to. If I don’t overcome fear and doubt by choosing to believe that God has my best interests in mind, always, then I offer them nothing. I don’t want to merely give others, especially my children, words on a page. I want to give them a real way of life. I want to show them that they have a real Savior who died for them, and loves them, and will never leave them. Will I be perfect? Not even close. But I hope to be genuine.