A few years ago, I was in a family restaurant that provides bowls of crayons and drawings for children to color while they wait for their food. Across the aisle was a couple with two young boys. While the parents looked at their menus and decided what to order, the boys went to work on their pictures.
The younger boy took a crayon and used it on his picture, then put it back in the bowl and swapped it for a different color.
The older one went about it differently. When he was done with a crayon, he would set it beside him. Soon, he had built up a stash of crayons, some of which his brother needed for his own drawing. The younger brother complained, and the mother intervened.
“You have to share,” she told the older son.
The boy shielded the crayons with his arm and said loudly, “No! These are MY crayons!”
Is there a parent who hasn’t had to remind their children that they’re not the only ones who matter? That everything doesn’t belong to you? That just because you have something in your hands it doesn’t make its yours?
“They’re NOT your crayons,” the mother said sharply. “They’re meant for you to share with your brother.”
That moment has stuck with me as a modern-day parable about owning and sharing. I thought about it the other day when I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a minivan that said: “Don’t Share My Wealth, Share My Work Ethic!”
There’s a suggestion that we earn and deserve everything we have. Like the older brother in the restaurant, those who have a longer reach or put more effort into hoarding the crayons think they are entitled to their stash. The younger brother is simply out of luck — and crayons. And it’s his own fault. He should have worked harder at grabbing the crayons. He really needs to learn how to hoard. And show more initiative.
We all need to be reminded: They’re not our crayons. They were given to us to share.
All that we have is freely given to us — life, love, our world, our very existence. None of it is earned. Each breath is a divine gift, each heartbeat a moment of grace, each day another opportunity provided by One who shares without limits and wants us to do the same.
We’re invited and challenged to share not only all that we have, but all that we are. To share not only our stuff, but ourselves.
In one of the most challenging gospel stories, a rich man who has spent his life building up a stash of things asks what God would like him to do. Jesus says that he should share everything he has accumulated with those who are in need. Sadly, the rich man can’t bring himself to do it. He refuses to share — not his things, not himself.
Those crayons? He’s convinced they all belong to him. He walks away indignantly.
And he’s wrong. They’re not our crayons. They’re God’s crayons. We have to share them with everyone.