By Beth Groh
“Hey, I want that.”
“No, that’s mine.”
“But that’s not fair! Yours is bigger.”
Argh! I bristle every time I hear the “That’s not fair!” line. It’s bad enough when we hear it from our kids.
But lately, we’ve been hearing it all over the news and, pervasively, in society. And that should sound alarm bells to Christian parents who want to instill a biblical worldview in the minds and hearts of their children.
In riot-torn London, many of the thugs on the streets said they were out to “get the rich” and get back what they deserved…as if torching a furniture store or looting plasma TVs from a store would somehow level the economic playing field in Great Britain.
On the campaign trail in this country, hecklers this past week have thrown angry barbs about making the “rich pay their fair share.”
In Washington, D.C., we hear the demonization of “corporate jet owners” and selfish “millionaires and billionaires” who need to “pay their fair share,” even though the highest wage earners already pay the majority of the tax revenues raised in this country while being labeled “greedy” for not paying even more.
Even in my own circle of acquaintances, I read a downright hostile dialogue between some young people on a social media site about the need to soak the “lazy rich” with more taxes since they don’t “deserve” what they have.
My heart sank to read and hear such bitterness.
Yes, our political discourse in this country has always involved debate about the so-called fairness of a world of “haves and have-nots.” That’s the give-and-take we expect between a liberal and conservative political tug-of-war over national policy.
But never in my lifetime have I heard the utter venom spewed recently about those who have achieved some measure of success in their lives.
I call it the politics of “envy”—and it’s a dangerous and intoxicating spirit that’s sweeping society, threatening to poison the hearts of our children.
Why? Because it breeds a covetous heart—and the last time I checked that was still one of those Ten Commandments that God ordained to keep us from having an unhealthy obsession for earthly possessions, whether ours or someone else’s.
God wants to be first in our lives. When He’s first, then we keep a healthy perspective on our material wants and needs.
His own generous gift of Salvation through His Son instills a giving heart in the lives of His children too. We should all burn with a desire to help those in need around us and to share freely those gifts He’s showered in our lives.
But the danger creeps in when the root source of transferring possessions/wealth between the “haves” and “have-nots” is not from a godly charitable desire—but rather from an angry, envious drive.
Sadly, many political leaders in our nation are fueling that spirit of envy. Their motives may genuinely be sincere—wanting to inspire people to demand a more “equitable” political structure, as they define it, to close a gap between rich and poor.
But the envy-filled rhetoric is a dangerous weapon. No matter how well-meaning the motives, the unintended consequences of stirring covetous desires can be deadly, as was seen in the U.K.
You can thumb back through the pages of history and find many bloody tales of how raw envy fueled unthinkable atrocities—the French and Bolshevik Revolutions come to mind, just to name a few. When envy is unleashed, bloodshed follows … and that has often led to a “strong man” oppressive state that breeds its own horrors.
So what are we to do as parents?
1. Praise and encourage our children when they show a generous heart.
2. Call out covetous envy that we see in others, while examining our own hearts for that same spirit.
3. Steep ourselves in God’s Word, claiming His assurances that we do not need to look with a jealous heart to others to provide for our needs: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)
4. Instead of envying those who have more than us, we should celebrate their successes. Those who succeed and show a generous spirit may be the very role models we set before our children.
5. Look through the Bible and find many of the great heroes of faith who were blessed with great wealth, and who used their gifts as a blessing to others. (Job, Abraham, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, etc)
6. And pray for our nation. Pray that our leaders would show restraint in stirring an ungodly spirit of envy…and that, instead, our Lord will stir in His people a spirit of love and generosity that will overcome this dark time in our land.