Sermon Illustrations

Two Sons and What They Did With Their Marbles

Once upon a time, a mother gave each of her sons two dollars and took them to a toy store to buy the beautiful, shiny marbles they had been asking for. The older son quickly figured out how many marbles he could get with his two dollars, chose the biggest and best of them all, and brought them to the counter in a brown paper bag. He was very happy.

Now, the younger son, who loved the marbles just as much as his brother, realized he needed a strong bag to carry them around in so he could play marbles with his friends. After choosing a sturdy little drawstring bag, he could buy only half as many marbles as his brother, but he was happy too.

The older brother thought so much of his small treasure that he would never let anyone else play with those shiny marbles—in fact; he wouldn’t even play with them himself. He would only look at them adoringly in the privacy of his own bedroom. Whenever he went anyplace, he gathered them up in the brown paper bag and clutched it to his side to be sure no one would get them.

The younger brother, on the other hand, went to the park every day and played marbles with his friends for hours and hours. At first, he lost many of his precious marbles to his friends, but he soon became good at the game and won back more than he lost—filling up his sturdy little drawstring bag.

One day, as the younger brother walked to the park, he found a beautiful marble on the sidewalk. He found another a few feet later, and another. He found marble after marble all the way to the park. He couldn’t fit all the new marbles into his bag, so he handed them out to some kids who didn’t have any and invited them to play marbles too. They had more fun than afternoon than any other day so far.

When the younger brother returned home for dinner, the older brother was in the kitchen staring mournfully at his brown paper bag—which was empty, with a hole in the bottom.

In God’s kingdom, everything is upside down and backwards: The first shall be last, the weak are strong, the foolish confound the wise. In the area of stewardship, those who give generously and use their resources have so much more than those who hoard.

This story is a simple version of one in Scripture:

Matthew 25:14-30

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

From a sermon by Brian Matherlee, Seeing Money the Way God Sees It, 12/9/2009

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