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“HEY! THAT'S MINE!” A Lesson on Sharing

Parents of toddlers often hear the shout “Hey! That’s mine!” resounding from the children’s playroom—even when their child is playing with a guest friend. Interestingly, a few times when I’ve entered into play with my children and their toys, I’ve had the same line shouted at me. While this gives me a good chuckle, it also makes me think about how God sees us with our material possessions. How often, rather than sharing, we hoard them for ourselves.

It’s the same way with God. He blesses us with material things to enrich our lives and for our pure enjoyment. Most of my children’s toys don’t stimulate me as an adult, and I would have no interest in them if not for my children’s sake. The little princess outfit my daughter treasures like gold and silver doesn’t mean anything to me. And the most prized car that my son possesses has no worth to me. But children, who have no concept of what is truly valuable, or what things there are in life that are of tremendously greater value, prize things of lesser value.

Our Heavenly Father sees us the same way. The “toys” we adults own, our cars, our houses, our huge TVs, our super or tablet computers, we place a lot of value on. But God could replace all of it in a blink. He looks at us and sees that we go about life with little concept of all the infinitely greater heavenly riches that are available to us. The stuff we all own and cherish, and in some cases, even worship, can become our false idols.

Does any of what we “own” really belong to us? Who gave the stuff to us? When we die, do we get to keep any of it? I once heard a pastor say, “When we die, the monopoly money all goes back into the box!” So, if it doesn’t belong to us, why do we hoard it? Why don’t we share it? Are we shouting as our kids do, “Hey! It’s mine!”? Maybe we should ask ourselves, “Is it really mine? Am I sure about that?”

Nothing breaks my heart as a parent more than my children not sharing their toys-I mean “my toys,” the ones I bought for them, the ones I have the power to take away or replace with something better. The first thing out of my mouth when I hear my kids shouting “Hey, that’s mine!” is, “Share, or I’m taking it away and nobody gets to play with it.”

And when I don’t share my possessions, somewhere deep in the recess of my heart, I hear the Holy Spirit saying the same thing to me. “Share your stuff, Diamond. It’s not really yours, you know.… Share, or I’ll take it away.” How humbling and sobering!

God’s heart is broken when we don’t share with each other. Jesus reminds us that what we do for “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” He speaks in this bible passage about feeding the hungry and thirsty, clothing others who have need, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison— acts of service, which when done, are unto Jesus himself!

But this is not easy to do at all! The book of Mark tells the story of a successful young man who asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. He tells Jesus he has kept all of the commandments and that he has been a good person. Jesus replies, “Go, sell all of your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The bible says that the man left sad, because he had great wealth. We can only assume that this man wasn’t willing to share his toys or his possessions with others.

The question we might ask ourselves is, “Are we like this man?” Even if we are not people of great wealth—we don’t own a Mercedes-Benz or have a six figure salary, if we really look at our life, most of us would admit that we have more stuff than we need. Compared to people who live in famine-stricken lands, we are people of great wealth.

Another story from the book of Mark contrasts starkly to the story of the rich young man. A poor widow gave “two very small copper coins,” less than two cents, and Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The wisdom book of Proverbs gets to the point without beating around the bush, “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.” Ouch! That’s a blunt and clear warning to us—just like the firm and blunt warnings we give our children, that if they don’t share their toys, there will be consequences. Who would want to receive many curses?

So the next time you have the chance to share what really doesn’t belong to you, and your heart is shouting “HEY! THAT’S MINE!” stop a moment and listen to the still small voice of the Spirit saying, “Share.… It’s not really yours anyway.” Come to think of it, we’re not so different from our kids, are we?

(Diamond Tam, MD is an ophthalmologist in private practice in Mississauga, Ontario. He lives in the Toronto area with his wife and three children.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20120205
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Apr-Jun 2012. CCMUSA.