Growing up I came to understand the “pseudo universal earthly truth” that there’s only one pie; if you get a bigger piece, than I get a smaller piece. There’s just so much….. if I win, you lose…. if you win, I lose. Actually it’s not really a “universal earthy truth”, but it’s pretty much how it works in a lot of places. A company is allocated so much money for raises for the next year… if one person gets a huge raise, others will get a tiny raise, or no raise. If a team can only have 11 members, then #12 gets cut, if you get the last parking space, I’m out of luck….
This “pseudo universal earthy truth” can flavor how we approach life if we’re not careful. It can lead to looking out for number one, to being selfish, to maneuvering so I look good, to gossip and slander so I come out on top …. not good things. These attitudes are called the works of the flesh. St. Paul outlines them in his letter to the Galatians: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21) When the “works of the flesh” reign in our lives, we are miserable and we make others around us miserable; we are unhappy when others do well.
Christ has a different approach. He proclaims the greatness of being a servant, of putting others before our self, of giving the biggest piece of the pie to others. In the kingdom of God, the “pie” is not limited. God’s plan is that each of us gets a huge piece of pie, more than we can handle, a humongous serving of his love and grace. If you do well and receive more grace from the Lord…praise God…it’s all good. If anything it inspires me to give myself more to the Lord and receive more grace. There’s not competition for a limited pie. We can wholeheartedly cheer each other on in the service of the kingdom of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) When the fruits of the spirit reign in our lives, we are happy and we help those around us to be happy.
Yet to be honest, I can find myself at times feeling the influence of the works of the flesh. I can find myself bummed out that I didn’t get a “nice piece” of the honor given, of the salary increase given, of the praise by the boss given, of the lead role in the play, of the “voted most likely to succeed”, of the one selected to be the MC or give the talk …… bla,bla,bla,bla. It’s not uncommon to feel these emotions throughout life, but we don’t want to live in these thoughts and feelings. It’s not good to allow them to take root.
When this type of thing occurs, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to dunk us with a quick torrential bath of heavenly truth…. “Dave, wake up….Dave, are you there…. Dave, listen up …. Dave, what is that to you?” Jesus said to Peter, “If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:22) When we get hit with a push toward wallowing in the flesh, let’s asked God to help us get our mind right… to think correctly ….to realize the in the kingdom of God, the Lord is taking perfect care of us. Dave, you follow me. It’s all good !!!
In the kingdom of God, there’s plenty of pie for all of us…more than enough…and that’s good news.