I was reminded of the first time I learned about money recently when my three-year-old son recently learned the same lesson. This is his first season of tee ball, if you can really call it tee ball. All the kids bat and there are no strikes and no outs. Each one takes his turn hitting off the tee and running to first base. In the field, no one can field or throw the ball yet so when the ball is hit the two or three young boys that are actually paying attention run to pounce on the ball. It is quite a sight to see.
Last week while sitting on the bench, I heard a boy say, “We have to wait too long for the snacks.” Each week a different parent is responsible for bringing the snacks. My son is quite aware of the post game snacks. He also is aware of the other team’s snacks. He quickly jumped in line and received the other teams snacks before coming over to his team to get the double snack. My wife and I saw him do this and walked him back over to the other team to return their snack. I honestly don’t think he really understood why he had to give the other team’s snack back.
I was probably a little older when I learned the same lesson at the grocery store. I remember seeing the candy bins that are so conveniently placed at eye level for the young ones. I lifted the lid of the candy bin and grabbed a few gummy worms and shoved them into my pocket. I waited until after we checked out and started home in the car before I pulled them out and began to eat them.
My mother looked back and saw me eating them and asked, “Where did you get those?” I just responded with “at the store.” She knew she didn’t pay for them so we turned the car around and headed back to the store to return them and make my first apology for taking something that wasn’t mine. I didn’t earn the right to receive those gummy worms just as my own son didn’t earn the right to have the “double snacks.”
Those are two simple stories that illustrate our desire for something that we didn’t earn and looking for a way to get what we want without trusting the Lord to provide. Now in my mid-30’s, this is a continual temptation. It’s pretty easy to look around you and see the love of money. It’s a stop light where a brand new Lexus rolls up beside you and you have the brief moment of temptation and jealousy as I start off in my beat up old Chevy truck. There is the moment when you drive to a business lunch into a zip code that far surpasses your lifestyle and the homes begin to look like some destination vacation site you see on TV.
In those moments, I must remember what Ecclesiastes says “this too is vanity.” It may appear that those things bring happiness, but the Scriptures would tell otherwise.
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” -Ecclesiastes 5:10
In those moments, I must turn to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That He is sufficient for my needs and for the needs of my family. A trusted mentor once told me that, “He will provide what you need, not always what you want, but what you need.”
God has been faithful, He has provided daily. There might not be much left over at the end of the month, but He has always provided. We walk daily in the reminder that there is no real joy in the love of money and that our joy comes from an overflowing relationship with our God and Savior Jesus Christ. We are daily dependent on Him to provide, and we are constantly setting aside our desire for the “double snack” that is outside the bounds of what He would have for us.