By Nathan Mark
The other day my 4-year-old son asked me if we could make popcorn (or “caw-corn,” as he calls it). So I got out the oil and popcorn and put a generous amount in the bottom of a pan. Kaelen sat on the counter next to me and waited excitedly. It finished popping and I poured it into a large bowl and handed it to him. A giant grin crossed his face as he took the bowl that was almost as big as him. We sat down to watch a movie together. Now I hadn’t made a bowl for myself but had just given him the whole large bowl, so, naturally, as we sat there I started to nibble from his bowl.
As I took a handful he turned to me and said very seriously, “Dad, don’t eat it all.” I replied, “Don’t worry, I won’t.” A couple minutes later I took another small handful.
“Dad, you’re gonna eat it all.”
“Kaelen, it’s okay, I can always make more,” I said.
As the minutes passed and we ate together from the giant bowl of popcorn (that no child could possibly finish by themselves, I might add), he got more and more adamant that I was going to eat it all. I finally turned to him and said with a smile, “Kaelen, do you realize that I have access to pretty much an unlimited supply of popcorn? If the bowl runs out I can go make more. If we run out here at home I could go and buy 100 pounds of popcorn if I wanted to. I promise you there will be enough popcorn.” Do you want to know his response?
“Dad, you’re gonna eat it all.”
Now this is a cute story of my life with a 4-year-old, but isn’t this really a picture of the way we are sometimes with our money and possessions? God has literally given us everything we have. Then when he asks us to give generously, we worry that there won’t be enough and we cling so hard to what we have. God is probably thinking, “Um … you realize that I have access to an unlimited supply of money and resources?” And, like my son, what is our response?
“But God, you’re gonna take it all.”
My wife and I have been married almost nine years, and for a long time we did not give faithfully. We had the same attitude as Kaelen; we gave only when we could see that there was more than enough, or when we felt guilty about our lack of giving. But God taught us through many difficult circumstances that he doesn’t want us to live in either of these places. Rather than saying we trust Him when things are easy and grasping for control when things are hard, He wants us to live in faithful dependence, trusting Him to provide for all our needs, in good times and bad. Rather than feeling guilty about our lack of trust, He wants us to live in joy by giving generously.
God doesn’t need your money. He just doesn’t. But that’s not the point of giving. God is not a God that needs anything from us, just as there is nothing that I technically need from my son. That is not why we are called to give. Giving is not about meeting God’s needs, but rather it is about our human need for prayerful dependence on our Father. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). This is a brutal truth and a haunting reality. We cannot cling to the control of our lives and possessions and serve God at the same time.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”—Matthew 6:25-27