< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="krusekronicle.typepad.com" > Kruse Kronicle: Keepers of the Pig Sty

Friday, July 29, 2005

Keepers of the Pig Sty

Centuries ago in feudal England, ones wealth was based largely on the amount of land and livestock owned. Livestock was managed by an army of servants. A “ward” was a servant who had responsibility for some aspect of the operation. The feudal lord’s most valued possession was often his herd of pigs. Consequently, the most trusted ward was the one who watched over the sty where the pigs lived. He was the “sty ward.” “Steward” (from sty-ward) is the word that emerged in English to describe our relationship to God concerning material possessions. “Steward” is not a frequently used word any more, yet it is probably the single best description of our relationship to wealth.

My father-in-law used to raise hogs. He worked at a meat packing plant toward the end of his career. He had oversight of the enormous freezer warehouses where the slaughtered hogs were kept. The hogs had to be kept at just the right temperature and moisture level or they would be ruined. I once asked him what he thought of his job. He told me “On a good I am responsible for millions of dollars of inventory. On a bad day I hang around a bunch of dead pigs.” Melissa and I will occasionally ask ach other how our day went. Sometimes, when things haven’t gone so well, we say “I had a dead pig day.”

The fact is that, “dead pig days” or not, there are only two relationships we can have with wealth. We can forgo wealth or we can be stewards of it for God. The wealth we control ultimately passes from our hands to into another’s hands. As Don Henley used to sing in his song “Gimme What You Got,” “…you don’t see hearses with luggage racks.” The illusion is that we make our own wealth and we are free to do with it as we please. But God declares:

Deut 8:17-18 NRSV
17 Do not say to yourself, "My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

It is God who ultimately is responsible for what we have and all of it returns to him.


At July 29, 2005 3:02 PM, Anonymous will spotts said...

I like the dead pig quote.


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