All that we have was given to us by God, and that should fuel our generosity. Here’s how my daughter taught me that lesson.
By Chris Sonksen
We are a baseball family. My son played baseball from age five through college. We have visited every single Major League Baseball stadium. In addition to the pictures we’ve taken, we have a collection of great baseball memorabilia from each stadium and from the players we’ve met. Now don’t get upset with me, but we are Yankees fans, which is a little strange coming from a family who has lived on the West Coast their entire lives. There’s a good chance you hate the Yankees—there are plenty who do. But like I always tell the haters, to date the Yankees have won twenty-seven World Series titles, so I guess they are doing something right.
My favorite games to attend have always been my son’s. He is left-handed, and I love watching him pitch. I’ve always joked that his left arm is my retirement program. Years ago, it was a Saturday ritual to pack up some lawn chairs, put together a small ice chest and head to the Little League field to watch our favorite player. My daughter, who is only 15 months older than my son, had only one reason for going to the Little League field: the snack bar. Her favorite candy was Skittles, and she knew she would likely get to purchase some when she came to the field.
One Saturday we were at the Little League field cheering on our son, and in the middle of the game my daughter hit me up for some snack-bar money. I gave her enough to purchase some candy, and sure enough, she came back with a pack of Skittles. As we were watching the game, she was taking small handfuls, working through her bag of candy. I leaned over to her and said, “Can I have a few?”
I was taken aback when without hesitation she looked up at me and said, “No.”
I looked at her and said, “What do you mean, no?”
She said, “I don’t want to give you any.”
I couldn’t believe she said this to me. I was thinking, How selfish of you. I’m your dad; can’t you share? I didn’t ask you for the whole bag; I just wanted a few.
At that Little League baseball field, my daughter forgot who truly supplied those Skittles for her. Not only did she forget who her provider was—me—she wasn’t even willing to give up a small portion of what she was given.
The mindset of my daughter is often the mindset of you and me. We forget that what we have was provided by someone else (God), and many times we are unwilling to give back a portion of what is all his to begin with. We have to quit thinking categorically that it’s our money at all. It’s not ours, it’s his.
This may be difficult for some of us to get our mind around. We go to school, earn a degree and work hard at a job or at a business we started, and we feel that because we did it all, we deserve it all. We are missing a crucial point here. It all belongs to God. He gave us the ability to make money. Whether we work with our hands in construction, work with numbers in an office or use our personality skills in sales, we must remember, he gave us the ability to do the work. He is the creator of the skill and the provider of the work. He is the one who owns everything. We are simply stewards of this earth and of what he blesses us with. The Scriptures declare this over and over.
Psalm 89:11—“The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; / The world and all it contains, You have founded them.”
Psalm 95:5—“The sea is His, for it was He who made it.”
Haggai 2:8—“‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts.”
Psalm 50:10—“For every beast of the forest is mine, / The cattle on a thousand hills.”
Deuteronomy 8:18 (my favorite)—“But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who is giving you the power to make wealth.”
It’s his; it’s all his. Everything on the earth, in the sky and in the sea—he owns it all. The income we make is a result of the ability he gives us to make it. We are simply stewards or managers of what he has blessed us with. When we think it’s ours, we miss what Scripture clearly teaches. Our misguided mindset keeps us from following the clear biblical principles of giving that God lays out in Scripture.
When we fall into the trap of thinking that our money is ours, when it’s really his, we inadvertently follow the misplaced thinking that my daughter had. How quickly she forgot on her journey from the snack bar back to the bleachers that what she was holding in her hands was provided by someone else. When we refuse to give back to God a handful of what he has given to us, maybe he would whisper in our ears, It’s all mine; I provided it. He owns everything and has the ability to give us more. No doubt, if he really feels it’s necessary to teach us a valuable lesson, he can take it from us. Would he ever do that? Possibly. You have to always remember that God is more interested in our character than in our comfort.
Excerpted from Quit Church by Chris Sonksen. Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. ©2018.