July 19, 2011

Make a Wish

Filed under: Financial Commitment,Lectionary,Time and Talent — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 6:15 pm

Usually in stewardship we talk about being responsible caretakers of the gifts we are given. This week, those of us who are following the “alternate first readings” in the Revised Common Lectionary, have a rare opportunity to talk about a gift for the asking.

In 1Kings 3:5-12, we see into the mind of a very young Solomon—a new king who is more than a little overwhelmed. God grants him one wish, one gift that will ease his mind for the challenges at hand.

That’s quite an offer! In just seven verses, I have to assume that we are getting the abridged version of the dialogue. Wouldn’t it be fun to imagine what else might have gone on in Solomon’s mind? Did he toss around some options before he made his request?

He could have asked to be released from his situation; that would certainly be a gift—more free time, less responsibility. But Solomon’s first response is to honor God’s love for David and David’s faithfulness to his God; then to name that he himself was a gift of God to David, blessing David’s kingship with an heir; finally, Solomon acknowledges his own kingship as a natural, if overwhelming, extension of God and David’s love for one another. Solomon sees the big picture. He sees himself as part of God’s promise, an agent of God’s vision, an actor in God’s plan. Abracadabra, make it go away! isn’t an option.

So if he can’t make it go away, maybe he could make it easier. As God himself points out, Solomon could ask for (even more) wealth, or power, or long life—the things that make it “good to be king.” But Solomon is too smart for that. He knows that he is young and immature, with a huge number of Chosen Ones looking to him for leadership. He also knows enough about palace intrigue to know that he is going to need something more than money and power if he’s going to make this work.

And then Solomon hits on just the right gift: the gift of discernment. That’s perfect! Every time he has to make a big decision, or figure out how to make the most of an opportunity, or face a threat, he will have the inner resources to do God’s will. Solomon is asking God to make him more than a king; he’s asking to be made a steward of the Chosen Ones.

And listen to God’s reply:

3:10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 3:11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 3:12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Solomon may have been young and immature, but he had the wisdom and maturity to ask for the very gift that would equip him to serve God’s purpose.

Isn’t that the ultimate end of our own quest to live as faithful stewards? What is the gift that equips you to serve God’s purpose? How would you spend one wish? It’s yours for the asking.


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