I love to read and one of my favorite book series that I remember reading in a summer was J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and his Lord of the Rings collection. What was even better was that there were movies to accompany these books, which brought the images and characters I had read about to life in very vivid and breathtaking ways. Tolkien was known for weaving his Christian faith and the message of the Gospel into his writings and his work extended beyond some hobbits in The Shire trying to destroy the One Ring of Power. Tolkien also wrote another book, a lesser-known short story entitled, “Smith of Wootton Major.” As we talk about Stewardship this week in our Believe series, Tolkien offers us a thought-provoking take on God’s gifts to us and how He intends that we use them for both Him and others.
In this short story, a young boy named Smith Smithson receives a rare gift at his small village’s celebration: a piece of cake that contains a silver star. As he wears this star on his forehead, it shines brightly for all to see and it also allows him to travel to magical lands. Smith also discovers he possesses special powers and privileges all because of this silver star. One day, as he is travelling home from one of his amazing journeys, Alf, the Master Cook and baker of the cake given to Smith, starts walking right beside him. What Smith doesn’t know is that Alf is actually the king of all the land and the one who chose to give Smith the silver star in the first place.
As they near Smith’s home, Alf says to him, “Do you not think, Master Smith, that it is time for you to give this thing [the magic silver star] up?” Smith replies, “What is that to you, Master Cook? And why should I do so? Isn't it mine? It came to me, and may a man not keep things that come to him so, at least as a remembrance?” The King said, “Some things. Those that are free gifts and given for remembrance. But others are not so given. They cannot belong to a man forever, nor be treasured as heirlooms. They are lent. You have not thought, perhaps, that someone else might need this thing. But it is so. Time is pressing.”
When it comes to stewarding our gifts from God, whether it’s money, time, gifts and talents, etc., what if we had more of this mindset that Alf was communicating to Smith regarding his gifted silver star? We can be tempted to hold on so tightly to the things we have, the possessions we accrue, the skills we learn, the way we structure our life, but what if we were to hold on a bit more loosely? What if we were to truly recognize that all of what makes us who we are is a gift from God? Your personality, your talents, your abilities, your relationships, your time, your money, your possessions are not meant to be kept close and treated as personal heirlooms, but are lent.
When God made you, He blessed you with all of these things so that you and I could bless others through them and that we might be used by God to draw others to Himself. It’s how He designed each of us with numerous gifts, interests, ways of doing things, unique and special ways that He has created us so that His grace might be expressed in each of us through our lives. 1 Peter 4:10 puts it like this: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. May God seek to show each of us how we can use what He has first given us to showcase who He is to those around us.
1J.R.R. Tolkien, “Smith of Wootton Major” (Del Ray, 1967, 41.)
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Pastor Ben Bigaouette