My son Will loves toy cars. He spends hours staging elaborate races--and equally complex ranking systems--with his cars. He even sets up football games with them—cars v. dinosaurs. And since I have 3 other kids, every day presents me with the same challenge: how do I
“Look!” I said, “This pile of cars is GIGANTIC! There are more than enough; how can you not share? What is more important, your brother or your stuff?”
(Cue weeping and gnashing of teeth.)
Will’s reluctance to be generous comes naturally.
Confession: Sometimes I pour my Coke into a coffee mug so I won't have to share any with my children. (They think coffee is "bisgusting.")
I would gladly die for my children, but “laying down my life” every day? That’s hard.
I just want to sit down, I can’t play soccer with you.
I just want a semi-clean house, I can’t bake cookies with you.
I just want what I want… if I give my time, my energy, my stuff, my sugary caffeinated yumminess…what if there isn’t enough for me?
In 1 John, the apostle addresses Christians as “little children”. In the same way that I helped Will take stock of his toys, John points out the abundance that belongs to God's kids: “See what kind of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.”
He poses this question in a subsequent verse: “If anyone sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
He says, in essence, “Look! God’s love is GIGANTIC. There is more than enough; how can you not share? What is more important, your brother or your stuff?”
I am constantly challenged by the things I say to my children. As I parent them, God never ceases to gently--and persistently--challenge me to take my own words seriously. To listen to His Daddy's heart in the Mama words I say.
He challenges us because we're his kids. His love won't give up. He won't forget His good intentions for us. He knows what we believe will make us happy--getting our own way-- will result in pain. When we follow the road of selfishness, we'll end up as lonely as the child whose friends have gone home because he won't share.
There is no need to hoard--not our stuff, not our time, and never-oh-never our love. This is the God of our Jesus--the one who made a banquet from a boy’s lunch! When we offer what we have, God promises that there will be enough of the important stuff to go around.
A version of the following was originally published in my church's magazine in November of 2013.