One of the gospel’s most iconic parables is that of The Prodigal Son. A young man decides that he wants to use the blessings of his Father for his own purposes. Predictably, the result is a disaster. In repentance he returns home intending to ask for servanthood. To his delight he is reinstated as a full member of the family, with a big party to boot. His older brother, however, has no delight in this moment. Instead, he remains outside the house while the party is going on. He is resentful that he has spent his life following all the rules and never had a party with his friends. The Father reminded him, “All I have is yours.”
People tend to fall into one of two camps in their giving development. Neither realize the goodness of God. The first asks the Father for the inheritance so they can go live their life with His gifts. It is a prodigal endeavor.
Then there are others who live in the family of God but are still starving for home and for joy. They can’t find their way to the feast when it is just through the door. These people are angry because their brothers and sisters have lived as sinful consumers. “I lived my whole life by the book,” they say, and thus reveal that theirs is a faith not of love and community with the Father, but of bitter resolve to the rules of the household. “I wish I could’ve had a party,” they say. The answer implied by the story is: “Well, why didn’t you?”
“All I have is yours.”
You see, the sin of the two sons was that one couldn’t enjoy it until he owned it, and the other one couldn’t enjoy it because he didn’t know he had it. Between these two sons is the message of stewardship. We can claim what is not ours and use it as we wish, which results in a lost life. Or we can live starving and hungry lives in the midst of a feast of grace, which results in a lost life. One had to gorge himself as fast as he could in order to feel alive. The other penny pinched and starved the life out of every possible party. God is asking both to come home to a life rooted in grace, balance, and sufficiency. A penny pincher nor a prodigal be. Both miss the party.
“All I have is yours.” I wonder how much life would change if we proclaimed and believed the gospel, “All I have is yours.”
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana