Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Really? Another Jar? by Brad Bridges

Week 39--September 26-October 2
Scripture Reading: Matthew 1-17; Psalm 135-137
Key passage for devotion: Matt. 6:24

“Really!” I said as my father walked in. “Another entire jar. Where does it all come from” I asked.

He looked at me pleased to notice I valued the jar’s contents. “Make sure each of the rolls are exact and its yours as long as you put it in your bank account.” Whoa, I thought. This can’t be happening to me. He’s giving me this for free.

I opened the jar. Poured out its contents. Separated everything out. Got the rolls ready. Then began the fun part. Counting. Counting. Counting.

It was unbelievable to see it all out in front of me. It must be worth huge amounts of money. Wait. I know its worth lots of money.

It is money.

I counted, created rolls, and closed up each roll. Then the stacking began. The mountain of money grew. Taller. And Taller. And Taller.

Why would my father do this? He just gave me a huge jar of change. For. Free. The mountain of change totaled to over $50, an unthinkable sum for an eight year old.

“Good job, Brad.” He told me after I handed it over to him. “Did you count them all exactly correct?” he asked. “Of course I did, dad. When are you going to put it all in my account?” I shouted. “Soon enough,” he said.

Sure enough, the next day he came home from work with a paper in his hand. I ran up to him to ask, “Daddy, what is that paper?” He extended the hand holding the paper towards me. After grabbing it, I read that the paper said $100. Hmmmm. “
“What happened?” I thought.

Free money. My dad gave me $50 in change, required me to count it correctly, and then doubled it at the bank to tell me “job well done.” But why would he do this?

As a banker, he sought to teach me how to count money correctly, the value of money, the rewards received when one handles it properly, and much more. He also gave generously to me, to charity, to our church, and to others.

Most people think bankers are stingy, rich people. Trust me, I’ve heard people talk about them my entire life. Honestly though, that’s pretty far from the truth for my father.

His approach to finances taught me lessons daily. One of the biggest was to be wise with money but not stingy with it. To be entirely transparent, he’s still teaching me that lesson today.

Another important man, responsible for much more money than my father, once said “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). You guessed it, Jesus said that (Describing him as “important” was probably the understatement of the year).

Since I was a little boy, my father has been helping me to learn the principle of serving God rather than money. Each Sunday I looked forward to grabbing his check and putting it in the offering plate. Then, it was something fun to do. Now, looking back, it was a weekly teaching moment.

How do we teach this same principle to our kids? It’s no harder today than it was 30 years ago to teach the principle of God before money. Trusting money for security always tempts but never satisfies.

Each day I’m tempted to hoard for myself. Each day I want to keep my coin jar and not share. Each day my selfishness tells me that I worked too hard to share or give back to God.

May we all, each day, turn those temptations into opportunities, to live as people with one Master, God. It is then that our coin jars, our ipods, and our flat screens will turn into teaching tools that teach someone else to value God over money or things. It is then that others will say to us, “Really! Another entire jar.” 

Brad, wife Lindsey and daughter Shiloh serve as Cross-cultural servants of Crossroads in Uruguay.

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