On Christmas break my family watches an unholy amount of movies. It is a bit of a perfect storm of movie watching. It gets dark super early. Where I live it is very cold, like negative… pick a number (once you get into negatives it doesn’t really matter anymore). Those two things make you want to put your PJ’s on at 4:30 and grab a blanket. No school, so we can stay up a little later. During school break we’ve got a couple days before Christmas to get in all the classic must-watch Christmas films. Then after Christmas we move to the epic films. This year we added ALL of the Star Wars to an already packed movie watching schedule of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies.
To you, it may seem like a waste of time, but I love it. My thirteen-year-old daughter will share a blanket with me. All six of us laugh together. We talk about symbolism and storytelling. We find God’s fingerprints and biblical truths in every movie. It’s really great!
Well, Christmas break I have had money on my mind. No, we are not going through financial difficulties (praise God). And no, we didn’t inherit a bunch of dough (praise God). We are starting the year off at church with a six-week series on “Money” and what the Bible teaches on the subject. So my mind is like a dog on a short chain – it can only get so far from the idea of money before it is jerked back.
Because of that short chain, I saw something new in Lord of the Rings this year. Much of the movie deals with the relationship between Frodo and Gollum, their similarities and dissimilarities. (If you haven’t seen the movies, don’t worry you can still get the big idea – keep reading.) I had always thought that one of their similarities was that they were both Ring Bearers, but this year I realized that they were not.
Frodo is always referred to as a Ring Bearer. His companions call him that, and he sees himself as that. Frodo knows he has the ring for a short amount of time for a very specific task. But Gollum is different. Gollum sees himself as the ring’s owner. He continues to say, “It came to us” (“us” meaning himself, he has multiple personalities), “It is ours, our own, our precious.” He was not a steward of the ring, but it’s owner, the lucky recipient of a marvelous gift. As a matter of fact, everyone who wants the Ring of Power for evil calls it “a gift.”
Because Frodo sees himself as the caretaker of the ring rather than its owner, he is able (for the most part) to keep at bay the ring’s evil powers. But Gollum sees the ring as a gift to him and is consumed by the evil of the ring. He becomes obsessed with it. It is his only drive and motivation.
Watching it this year I saw an amazing parallel with money and possessions. If we see our money and possessions as something we’ve earned or even gifts from God, they will consume us. We will see them as ours. Ours to protect. Ours to do with what we will. Ours to cherish. Ours, ours, ours.
But if we see ourselves as stewards of someone else’s money and possessions, if we know that we have this stuff and this money for a short amount of time for a specific purpose, we can avoid being possessed by it.
Read Matthew 25:14-30
This is a clear picture to us that God does not give us money and possessions. God entrust us with his money and possessions and asks us to be good stewards. He asks us to be “Ring Bearers.”