We used to take the kids to play tennis at some nearby courts, and we would always end with the “m&m game.” Each kid would take a turn rallying with us (Dad played collegiately, Mom played other sports) to see how many times they could keep the ball in play over the net. Each time over earned them one m&m. This was agreed upon ahead of time and they were excited to play.
Now, they were small and so the payout was not too large, maybe 10-12 at most. Inevitably, one kid always came away complaining, “She got more than me!” And we would reply, well you got your 7 m&m’s, right? Why does it matter that she got 12?
Rev. Miner’s words about gratitude reminded me of the m&ms. How, no matter how much I have been given, I have a hard time feeling grateful if the other person has more. Especially, if the other person doesn’t deserve more. Is this just me or do other people have this problem? Bible people have this problem…
I mean, take for instance, Jonah, who having been rescued from three days inside a really large fish did not take kindly to God’s pardon of the Ninevites. And the workers hired early in the day who were distraught because those hired at the 11th hour got the same wages. How about that thief on the cross; he got paradise in spite of his life of crime. I wanna cry foul with the older brother who had every right to complain when dad had a welcome home party for little prodigal brother, complete with fatted calf. I guess I have not grown too far from the m&m’s.
So, today I am struggling with this. I’m picturing that day when all the nations are gathered before the Son of Man and He separates the sheep from the goats. I hope I will be selected for the sheep team. But what if, in God’s boundless compassion, He says, “Goats, you are forgiven. Join the sheep and be with me in paradise.” I’m certain I would shout, “No fair!” And there I’ll be, a perpetual goat.
Clearly, learning to hold my tongue is an eternal life skill. So I am giving thanks for this sermon series. There is absolutely no way I will ever grow pure bred gratitude without first cornering the criticism, harnessing the hearsay and binding the bitterness. I am truly grateful for the m&m’s I’ve been given. I’ll share. Except the peanut ones.