By Giving It Away
The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. Matthew 21:43
Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that, We keep what we have by giving it away. Inherent to the process of recovery is reaching out. As we have been given much, we must share with those in need. This is similar to Christianity because the core tenets of AA were taken straight from the Bible. My faith, like my recovery, is not meant to be lived in a bubble.
In the disaster of my addiction, as I was losing everything – family, career, status, money – I had to look back at my life. I’d been given so much. What had I done with it? Had I lived the life God wanted me to live? Had I given of my time and money to love those around me? Or, had I pursued myself, nearly losing everything in the process?
In today’s passage, Jesus told a similar story. In the parable, a landowner left the country but leased his vineyard out in his absence. When the harvest came, he sent for his payment, but those who leased the vineyard forgot who owned the land. They refused to pay, abusing and killing the landowner’s messengers. The landowner then sent his son to collect, whom they also killed. Jesus asked his audience what the landowner should do with those wretches. The obvious answer was that they needed to die.
Most of us have been given much. What have we done with what we’ve been given? Do we use what we have to produce fruit for God? Do we love those around us? Do we help the less fortunate? Do we reach out to the needy? We keep what we have by giving it away. What happens when we refuse to share what God has given?
Today’s parable doesn’t mean we’ll all lose our jobs as I did in my addiction. It does mean that faith and recovery, by definition, are not meant to be lived in isolation. If we truly want to experience recovery, we must share it with others. If we claim to have faith, then we must love those around us. When we refuse to share our recovery, we’ll find it slipping away. Likewise, if we refuse to practice faith, obeying God and loving our neighbors, we may find that we never really had it in the first place. We keep what we have by giving it away.