The Ball Doesn't Belong to Us

Rarely do good deeds go unpunished. Christian Lopez, who ended up with the ball that landed in the stands for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, had decided that the right thing to do was to give the ball to Jeter for nothing more than a meeting and an autograph. Since then, he's been called an idiot for not extracting the maximum financial gain from his good fortune, and has been told he likely owes significant taxes on the Yankee paraphernalia he was given in exchange for the ball.

This touching Sports Illustrated column highlights Lopez's interaction with his father, who at first, thinking of the family's many financial needs, was against his son simply giving away this treasured collectible, but, upon realizing his son's insistence on doing right, supported him 100 percent.

As the column puts it, Lopez' dad, like all of us, "wonder about the difference between the right thing and the thing that's right for us." But to Lopez, the ball didn't belong to him, it belonged to Jeter, or perhaps more broadly, to the game of baseball. One can take this sentiment to the extreme, but I believe that there are many such treasures, tangible and intangible, that come into our lives, that really aren't ours to keep or to extract maximum personal financial gain from, but that belong to someone or someones else and are to be used for the greatest good.

The Christian concept of stewardship - of our time, our talents, and our treasure - is not meant to be a punitive one: you're supposed to share, gosh darnit, and if you don't, you're evil. No, rather, generosity and selflessness and sacrifice come from a posture of humbly realizing that "the ball" doesn't belong to us. There is greater satisfaction, happiness, and, dare I say, gain from forgoing a me-first approach to life and instead taking on a stewardship approach, which says that all we have and are is from Someone greater than we are, and for Something greater than we are.

From what I've read about Christian Lopez, I get the sense he is by no means rich in resources. It is from that fact that his father was likely at first reluctant to part with something of such great value for nothing in return. But the son's commitment to doing right, and to properly seeing that "the ball" didn't belong to him, helped the father realize that his son possessed something of far greater value: true character. Would that we take a page from this real-life story as we consider what has fallen into our laps, and what our Maker would have us to do with it.

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