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Open-Handed Living

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I call “open-handed living.” What I mean by that is living in a way that really grasps the temporary nature of my stuff and the small value it all holds in light of the great need around me. If I’m holding my “stuff” in an open hand, that means I’m not clutching it with a tight fist and keeping it for myself, but I’m holding it out in the open for God to remove it, or direct me in how to invest it, or to give it to another.

“Holding my stuff with an open hand” also means evaluating whether I’m investing in temporary riches at the expense of eternal fruit.

That whole story of the man in Luke 12 who had so much he needed to build bigger barns has really been on my mind. 

The man kept accumulating wealth, kept piling up his abundance, and his security was found in his financial success. He told himself that he had plenty stored up for the future, so now it was time to relax, to kick back and coast through his “retirement years.” His little speech to himself went like this: “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

But what he didn’t realize was all he was hoarding, all he was placing his security in, was not really his at all. He had grabbed onto a small dream and was living for the moment. His huge piles of stuff were just a fleeting substance. His value system was out of whack.

What he placed great value on, was just a pile of the temporary.

Jesus pointed out that because this fool lived with that kind of value system, he’d missed out on what really mattered, what was really valuable: a heart that is rich toward God and investing in eternity.

He was doing what Randy Alcorn calls: “Living for the dot and not the line.”

Alcorn challenges us to think of our life as represented by the dot that illustrates our beginning point and time on earth, but the infinite line that extends from that dot is our eternity. When we are “living for the dot” we’re living as though this is all there is.

We’re placing our value on the stuff we can accumulate here, our time is invested in what matters here, our vision is limited to what the “dot” holds for me, rather than considering how the choices I’m making during my short “dot” existence will translate into the eternal line I’ll soon be experiencing.

When we forget about the line, we miss out on investing in what really matters. 

Does this make sense to you?

Maybe it will help if I break it down a bit. The average cost for a family of four to eat out is close to fifty dollars. What if that family who regular eats out twice a week, chose to cut out one of those meals and take the amount they save to “invest” in an eternal project? Perhaps adopt a missionary family, support a ministry with a monthly amount, start a ministry account to have money on hand for the needy in their own church?

Or what about inviting a family that needs to be introduced to the gospel over to your home for dinner? Think of the eternal investment that fifty dollars could make if you fed a family a spiritual meal of good news?

What would your children think if they saw you sacrificing something you enjoy doing so that the funds from that activity could be funneled into spreading the gospel? Would they begin to take on more of an understanding about the eternal aspect of their lives?

Is there anything you’re holding onto with a clenched fist?

What do your finances indicate about where your heart is?

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