God’s Little Acre

Buffalo Bill Cody portrait by Will Cooper

I have TIVO which allows me to record movies and see them when I’m painting at night. I’m sure most of you have read the book God’s Little Acre written by Erskine Caldwell in 1933. The movie came out in 1958. If you have not see this movie, rent it.  Robert Ryan plays a Georgia farmer who has pledged one acre of his farm to the Holiness Church.  The problem arises when he begins digging holes looking for a fortune in gold he thinks his Civil War grandfather has hidden. He has a cross that represents God’s acre, but when he thinks the gold might be on the church’s plot he moves the cross.  His explanation, “I’m moving God’s acre so I won’t suffer temptation.  If I found that gold on God’s acre I would be obliged to give it to the church. I might be tempted to keep some and that would be a sin.”

I ruminated on that movie all day.  How true to nature the plot is.  We are willing to give to God as long as it’s not too uncomfortable. These days we have scores of mega-churches that preach prosperity religion. If you give, God will make you rich. This is an outright lie.  Other members tithe (10%) because they believe this is a command of God.  Tithing is the law of the Jews, but those born again into the Body of Christ are free from legalism. I call it the tithe that binds. It’s only a gift if we freely give.  Otherwise it’s an obligation. Most people don’t realize the children of Israel tithed goats, pigeons and other animals, which the tribe of Levi sold for money. Tithing was never money.  Today tithing is a fund rasing apparatus for the churches. I give because it brings a bigger blessing than if it’s a legal obligation.

It’s easy to keep your word if it’s not difficult to do. If a friend’s car is stuck we can pull him out, but what if he is facing a deadly gun battle and asks you to stand at his back?  Robert Ryan, in the movie was like most Christians today.  “God you can have all except this valuable acre.”

I honestly don’t think we know what God’s giving really involves.  God offered up His Son on a cross for my sins. His Son took my place and is a propitiation of my evil ways. That is a true picture of Holy Giving. Buying Girl Scout cookies and a dollar lottery ticket for the school band is not Holy Giving. People tell me I give too much.  How is that possible?  I have never given my life for another.  Yes, I help needy families, we spend a couple of weeks a year helping other ranchers who are in need.  I go when called, like the old rancher from Laredo, or a few years back when I helped a 85-year-old rancher from Hondo capture six illegal aliens that were making his ranch their home.  I never think of that as giving, but just being a Texan, doing what Texans do.

The movie, God’s Little Acre closes with the church’s plot smack dab in the middle of a small creek. He was playing it safe in the event he found the gold.

Email:  willcooper@senkarik.com

Check out the skull on the front and cowbell under the bike.


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