My little girl has been dealing with private ownership in the last six months or so.
Scenario: She and another child are hard at play. Other child begins to be interested in a toy (she has had no interest in said toy for the last three weeks). She immediately becomes completely enthralled with toy. She has to have that toy. She will do whatever she has to– beg, borrow, and steal, to get that toy. She gets it. Ahh, sweet victory. Other child is a little upset. But wait, other child moves on. My daughter loses interest, too. Look, other child has found a new toy. Repeat Scenario.
She is like me. I love stuff. I especially love other people’s stuff-pretty stuff that is. Things look nice at the store, of course, but only because I’ve seen ‘so and so’ with it. I may not let my envy be nearly as conspicuous but I’m just like my little girl, only the TOYS are bigger and much more expensive.
I’ve got a lot of the Ten Commandments down. Stealing? No way! Bowing down to idols? Me–no! Not honoring my parents? Are you kidding-this is ME you’re talking about. I’ve nearly made it to the end of the list and I get sneak attacked by number 10 (Exodus 20:17). ‘You shall not envy your friend’s figure, or her house, or her diamond, or her lifestyle…or anything about her. In fact, you shall not envy anybody’s anything.’ (Burningbushes translation) When God brings envy into the picture, I’m all done. And finally I have to admit that I’m a sinner.
Envy drives my little girl to steal every toy that her brother grabs. And it makes her a not so fun playmate. Envy drives me to accumulate and acquire until my hands are so full that I can’t scratch the itch on my nose. Envy makes me grab like crazy and hold on tight. And for this reason, a big category for burningbushes’ posts will be Generosity. Not finances or stewardship or money management. But, generosity.
I want my daughter to not just learn to do with less but to learn to give even the little that she has…with joy. I guess that I should probably learn generosity along with her. How do I learn it? Well, we’ll look at practical means to start practicing generosity in the days ahead, but I’d like to start today by thinking about Jesus and His generosity. All that He gave up to come to me.
At the end of every play date, my little girl usually cries. When my little boy heads for a nap, my little girl cries. Surprising as it seems, she is sad to see those fellow toy competitors leave. She doesn’t really want those toys. No, she wants those friends. Jesus was not so confused. He knew what He wanted. He had it all and left it all behind because He wanted us. His mind was made up. The toys would have to wait, He was heading straight toward us, giving up Himself and suffering great shame, all to win an eternity of enjoyment with us. And all that He left behind? He owns it now in its fullness and offers it to us if we will just loosen our grip on these toys that will soon be gone.
Envy drives me to want more and more toys and miss the beauty of the PEOPLE that surround me. The first step in starting to obey the 10th commandment is reminding myself of the first. I’ve got to start looking at Jesus more and thinking about His generosity. Only then will I be able to loosen my grip on these toys and say to my friends and neighbors, ‘I may want some of these things…but I really just want YOU. Will you play with me?’
How do you stop the toy envy process for yourself? What motivates you to open your hands a bit more?