The Great M & M Race
Karen Ehman

“Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 (NIV)

“On your mark. Get set. Go!!” my husband shouted as our three kids began the great M & M race. The rules were simple. Each child had a bowl in a separate corner of the family room. In the middle of the floor sat a huge bowl of M & M candies. The kids were instructed to use a tablespoon to transport the candies, one spoonful at a time, back to their individual bowls. If any dropped on the floor, they couldn’t pick them up. And the most important rule was this: When the timer rang, they had to stop at exactly the place where they were. If they were anywhere other than sitting in their corner holding their bowl, they forfeited all of the M & M’s they had gathered. And no, we wouldn’t tell them how many minutes the timer would be set for.

Four-year old Spencer, the family clown, giggled as he dashed back and forth, candies flying off of his spoon and landing on the ground. But he kept going, thinking that surely he would get the most by hurrying and scurrying. Methodical Mitchell surmised that if he intentionally went slowly and carefully, he could balance more candies on the spoon, not drop any and as a result, fill his bowl to the brim. But he sort of forgot about the timer. Big sister Mackenzie quickly clued into the “catch” of the game. She too was careful while transporting her M & M’s back to her bowl. But after a few trips, she sat down, placed her bowl in her lap and waited.

Moments later the timer went off. Spencer dove for his bowl, but it was too late. Mitchell, who was just meticulously scooping up another spoonful, got a horrified look on his face as he realized what had happened. All of his tedious effort had come to nothing. He too was left without a single M & M. In the corner of the room sat their sister who, due to her careful attention and clever game plan, was now the proud owner of many colorful candies. She also was also awarded all of the M & M’s that were sitting in her brother’s bowls. One boy began to complain, the other to cry. We had them calm down and sit down as we finished the family time Bible lesson. There was a point to this shenanigan.

My husband turned to Luke 12 and read the story of the rich fool. (Luke 12:13-21) This man had a fertile, prosperous farm that earned him quite a deal of money. But instead of using his wealth to bless others, he tore down all of his barns and built even bigger ones to stash his stuff in. However, he didn’t realize what was about to happen. That very night life’s timer would go off and he would die. All of his earthly trinkets would be of no value to him. In fact, they would be left for others. We related this story to our little family exercise that day.

You know, children aren’t the only ones who struggle with greed. How about us? Do we seek excessive earthly treasures for ourselves rather than give that money to ministries striving to feed the poor or to reach people with the good news of Christ? Are we prone to hoarder? Clothes, shoes, grown-up toys, out-on-the-town outings, or money spent on luxuries for ourselves? I’m not talking about a new car. It can be as simple as fancy coffees, which I love. One day it was pointed out to me that my favorite sweet and creamy hot drink- tall, skinny, decaf mocha with a shot of coconut and light on the whip, please- even when ordered two or three times a week, adds up to $30-40 dollars a month, I had to do some soul searching. Could I maybe limit myself to once every two weeks or so and instead spend the money somewhere else? The result? We now sponsor a child in Indonesia. For around $30 a month, we pay for little Rina’s food, clothing, medical care and school. What a better investment of our money! (And just think how many calories I am saving to boot!)

How about you? Need to make any adjustments in your spending? While there is merit in saving for a rainy day, we should also be sharing that which God has given us. Which is exactly what our daughter did that day with her M & M’s and her two baby brothers !

Dear Lord, Show me where I can spend less on myself and more on others. All I have belongs to you. May I use it for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Application Steps:
Keep track this week of the money you spend on yourself for items that aren’t really necessities. How else could you spend that money in a way that would help out someone less fortunate than you?

With the children in your life, come up with two or three worthy causes. Decorate a few clean mayonnaise jars to house funds for these places. Encourage all to place their spare change and earned dollars in the jars. When you have collected enough, convert it to a check and either mail it along with a letter or even hand deliver it with the kids in tow.

What score would you give yourself on the greedy scale if a 1 is an Ebenezer Scrooge and a 10 is a Mother Teresa? Be honest. What can you do to improve your score?

List any areas that are strongholds for you in the struggle with greed. Pray about what action God would have you take in order to curb these cravings for more.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 28:25, “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. (NIV)

Ephesians 5:5-6, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

amen! sad to admit i maybe smiling on .01 when it comes to the score but thanks for the simple example of "The Great M&M Race" that i have a time limit to be careful and be aware as i race. thanks!

Blogger supermom said...

Ahhhhhhhh.... I LOVE the visual and have to wonder what MY children would have done... hmmmm I also have to wonder what ((I))) would have done... since I love M&M's too! I once read "Simplyfing our lives is not doing without - but being content with less"
Mother of 8

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you soooo much for this article today. i needed this. i have been greedy for material wealth a while now. looking at what others have was becomming a real stumbling block for me. god has bleesed me and all i was doing was grumbling about what i did not have.
thanks i again becuase after reading this i feel like a great weight has been lifted. god bless you all.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was interesting and well thought out. I think this will help alot of families focus their priorities including us. We have already come up with a plan to save money and give it to someone in need

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