Sunday, January 06, 2008

Finders - keepers?

As I child, I really enjoyed playing "Finders Keepers". I'm sure you are familiar with the game. You ask your parents if you can clean the couch cushions/car seats/pockets of pants going into laundry, with the caveat that you get to keep what you find. It was a win-win situation, as I was highly motivated to do a chore and my parents got something cleaned out.

But I've been thinking about that game lately. It's a fine game to teach entrepreneurship! However, a different game has captivated my thoughts lately. I call it "Finders givers."

In this game, anything "found" - whether in a couch, or an unexpected windfall (small or large), or on the ground - becomes a chance to give. Assuming the rightful owner can't be located, what is received becomes a blessing to pass on to others. The presumption would be that it wasn't given to the recipient to keep, but to pass on. A generation of kids raised on this game would never think about keeping a wallet found on the ground or a $100 bill in the couch - and "Possession is 9/10 of the law" would be a foreign concept.

Sounds like the biblical principle of blessed to be a blessing, doesn't it? Yet when couched in terms of a common children's game, we see how different it is to our cultural norms. We think "it came into my hands; therefore, it's mine." But Scripture says, "it came into my hands; therefore, God wants me to do something with it."

Of course 100% of what we have belongs to God, and we should hold even our basic needs loosely. If a hungry person shows up we should share what we have even if it is meager. But what if we learned to look at anything extra, unexpected, bonus - with the perspective of "finders givers"? What if we assume that we are to pass on that bonus check, that gift card to Olive Garden, that second crockpot? What if God had to convince us to keep it rather than talk us into passing it on?

The radical giving and radical love that would result could transform our homes, our workplaces, our society, maybe even our world. And I have a feeling that with hearts like that, we would have more blessings than we know what to do with - those to keep AND give away!

Blessed to be a blessing. It turns "finders keepers" upside down.

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you —see that you excel in this act of grace also.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Cor 8:1-15)

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