Recently I was reminded of the story of a missionary who spent decades reaching out to a cannibal/head-hunter tribe half-way around the globe. He shared a fascinating experience known as “The Pineapple Story”, in which he had to learn the hard lesson of giving his rights of ownership to God.
In the story, the missionary planted a pineapple garden, only to find that as soon as the pineapples were getting ripe, the natives would come at night and steal them; he didn’t get to taste a single one. Angry and frustrated, and selfishly wanting the pineapples for himself, he tried everything to get the natives to learn the lesson that stealing is wrong. And still the natives kept stealing the pineapples.
Then one day, the missionary stumbled upon the biblical concept that we must give everything we own to God. According to the Bible, if we give, we will have; if we keep for ourselves, we will lose. If we give our things to God, He will see that we have enough (e.g. Matt. 16:25). Suddenly it clicked in his mind – he had fought for that pineapple garden tooth and nail, to no avail, thinking he had the right to own and eat the pineapples. With that realization, he decided to give the garden to God, and if God wanted to bless him with pineapples, great; but if not, he would be content with that as well.
A little while later, the natives started noticing the change in his behaviour. They noticed that he wasn’t getting angry with them any more for stealing the pineapples, and they became curious. In their mind, the missionary had now become a Christian, because he was loving them instead of being angry with them, and “practicing what he preached”. When they heard that he had given the pineapples to God, they became afraid because they had noticed a change in their villages. Their hunting had become fruitless; their babies were getting sick; their wives were not getting pregnant; things were going badly in every way. And so they stopped stealing the pineapples! But even better than that, they started believing in God and coming to faith in Christ! All because one man learned the lesson of giving up everything to God.
Another missionary, Jim Elliot, put it this way: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
What pineapples are growing in your garden? What do you think you have to hold on to and fight for? What gets you fired up? Is it your possessions or money, your job, your family and friends, your health, your reputation, your time and hobbies, your plans for the future? The Bible is clear that God wants us to let go of it all. He is the proper and rightful owner of everything, even our very lives. But somehow, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we can walk through life tight-fisted and entitled to what we have or want.
Let’s learn a lesson from this missionary and give our pineapples to God. Let us intentionally choose to open our hands and let go, so we can become channels of blessings to the people around us. God will honour that choice and bring glory to His Name by transforming us and impacting others through us in a positive Christ-honouring way.