It is God, James tells us, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Treasure, real treasure, comes from God alone. How is it, then, that we fail to receive that which He would give us? Often the problem is not that God is withholding, but that we are holding on.

There’s an old, bucolic story about a little boy who got his hand stuck in a delicate vase. It seems he reached into the vase to retrieve something, and then could not pull himself free without breaking it. Finally, he called out to his dad for help. They worked and struggled to ease his hand out, but to no avail. Seeing no alternative, the father made the inevitable decision: the vase must be broken.

Just before he struck the fatal blow to this heirloom piece, the father asked his son to try to slip his hand out one more time. Crying now, the little boy ‘fessed up: “Dad, I’ll do it if you make me, but if I do, I’ll have to drop my dime.” It’s an antique story about an antique vase, but it illustrates a very basic spiritual principle: The hand that is closed cannot receive the treasure that God wants to give. It’s just that simple.