Martin Luther once quipped that, “If our goods are not available to the community, they are stolen goods.”
This past Christmas our family had the exquisite opportunity to open our Colorado mountain home and our hearts to a lovely family we had met in our travels to Brazil. The husband and wife are each medical doctors, and at one time or another four members of our immediate family had been guests in their Brazilian home. They brought with them their three sons, plus another Brazilian teen- aged boy. In addition to our two sons and their kiddos, our younger son brought his new wife and their two teen-aged sons. And that, indeed, made a houseful!
As the festivities of the Christmas day rolled on, I found a quiet spot by the blazing fireplace and for a few moments I became an observer, rather than an engaged participant. I watched the mingling of the families and the love that flowed through their conversations, jokes and hugs. I allowed my mind to revisit the country of Brazil and the dramatic needs there and the rampant poverty of the favelas. I was at peace knowing that we, as a family, not only were concerned on a daily basis with the hurts, trauma and destitution of the needy people around the world, but that in the simplicity of our own home we were willing to open up ourselves and share with others those goods that had been allowed to us. The goods that we had were not being hoarded but, rather, they were being made available to others of the community. They were not “stolen goods.”
Somewhere along the line we had been allowed to discover that our greatest fulfillment in living was being realized through our giving of ourselves and the things we possessed. The things that we would hoard in life would only be left and fought over by others, but the things that we would share with others around us would continue to keep on giving forever.
The culture around us has drummed into our heads that we must accumulate for ourselves and ardently hold fast to those collected things with the tenacious belief that if we fail in hanging on we will always somehow be without quite enough. The sad result of that thinking is an anxiety about today and a fear of not having quite enough for tomorrow. It squelches the simple belief that God is in control and is eager to graciously supply all that is needed to those who resist dealing in stolen goods. That simplicity of life escapes those who refuse to relinquish and share with those in need that which has been given to them in the first place.
While sitting by the warm hearth and glowing fire, I reaffirmed that I enjoy the simple life of love and sharing. I want my family to see and also enjoy that kind of life. I desire a personal life free of anxiety and determine to cling to the belief that all of my needs will continue to be met as I make certain that enough of those people around me are being made “better off.”