Letter Beads and the Kingdom of God

Letters Beads and the Kingdom JPEG.001It is amazing how often parenting puts us in the funny position of being taught as we are teaching.

Last April, we invited a mom friend and her 4 year old to come play. Sophie and her little guest were both feeling shy and unsure of how to play together, so I got out the letter beads and some string for the girls to make bracelets.

It seemed to prudent for each girl to have her own little bowl of beads to minimize potential problems with sharing, but as soon as the beads were on the table, Sophie looked at her bowl and then looked at her friend’s bowl. She looked concerned. Then she looked upset. Then she did the “I’m not happy, foot stamp dance.”

I asked Sophie what was wrong. “I don’t want her to take my beads!” was the prompt and distressed reply.

As I tried to explain about being generous and sharing with our friends, it struck me as funny that she was anxious about the loss of her beads. To be fair, all the beads we hers; she had received them as a gift, but we have over 100 of these things. And they only cost a dollar.  ONE dollar. It is nothing to me to get more. I can get lots more beads. Thousands more! But she doesn’t know that.

And then I immediately wondered if God thinks the same as he watches me anxiously and greedily gather and collect and store up, grasping tightly to all my little beads of money and clothing and time and resources.

I wonder if I, too, need to hear Him say, “It is mine. All of it is mine. The whole earth is mine. You can share. You can be generous. Even if you give it all away, I can provide you with all that you need.”

In Luke 12:13-34, we find a warning, an encouragement, a promise, and a charge about possessions:

1. A Warning: Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15)

A man comes to Jesus demanding, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus responds to the man with a parable about a man whose land produced an abundance of crops. Rather than sharing his abundance, the man decided to store up all these crops and other goods for himself, saying, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19).

God’s response to the man is, sobering: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

2. An encouragement:  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing… For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke12:22-23;30-31).

Our Father in heaven knows what we need. The whole earth is his. All of it. He clothes the birds (24-26) and the flowers (27-28). How much more will he provide for us! We need only seek his kingdom.

3. A Promise: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32)

I love this promise! We don’t have to covet or hoard or anxiously gather, God has promised us the Kingdom.

There is nothing that we can give up that the Father cannot repay.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30)

4. A charge: “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12: 33-34)

After reminding us that we have be promised the kingdom, Jesus tells the crowd gathered around him to sell and give and share and store up treasure that can never be taken away.

We can give freely. The things we have here are nothing but little beads in a bowl. They are worthless, but when given away become a treasure stored up in heaven.

What are you hanging on to? Where do you find yourself unwilling to share?

Consider “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

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