What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese.
And why would we want someone else’s cheese? It’s called envy, and it’s been around since Lucifer lived in unsurpassed beauty as a member of the host of heaven. He was not satisfied with his position there. He not only wanted God’s cheese—He wanted to be the Big Cheese. So he rebelled, and a third of the angels accompanied him in his fall from glory.
His constant occupation ever since has been to take and destroy what does not rightly belong to him—people created to worship God alone. His first success was in the garden when he convinced Adam and Eve to take what was not theirs. They realized too late—stolen fruit is not sweeter. And mankind has struggled with envy, yearning for cheese that’s not ours.
Our cravings change as we age. When we’re little we steal each other’s toys. Throughout our school days, we envy the beautiful and popular. In our twenties and thirties, we long for true love, children, or career success. In our forties and fifties, we desire significance and wrinkle-free bodies. And after that, we want financial security, pain relief, and to finish our life on earth well.
No matter how old we are, the progression of envy is always the same. Something catches our eye, and we stop to admire it. Next, comes the longing. We want it…we want it bad. Whether it’s a sports car, a person, a sweater, or a candy bar our life suddenly seems empty without it.
Advertisers take advantage of our natural greed. Unless we’re willing to walk away from temptation, we’ll eventually find a way to grab that cheese and make it our own. Time, money, sex, energy, worship, and love are just a few examples of the cheese we seize for ourselves. We act as if we can do as we please with whatever lies before us.
We can relate to Achan’s story in the Bible. God’s people had been instructed not to take the plunder when they stormed Jericho, but Achan just couldn’t resist taking some of the spoils. The trouble is, since it was forbidden, he couldn’t enjoy any of it. As they do for us, his stolen sweets led to lies, guilt, and shame.
God tested His people’s commitment to Him in this first battle in the Promised Land, telling them to devote everything as an offering to Him. By stealing for himself Achan not only took what belonged to God, he caused trouble for his people. Thirty-six people died in the battle with Ai until he finally confessed.
“When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath” (Joshua 7:21).
Even when our greed doesn’t result in death, taking what isn’t ours still brings harm to everyone. Only God knows if what we yearn for will harm us in the long run. (Too much cheese can cause constipation.) Will we trust Him enough to keep our hands off when God says No, and gratefully accept what He has for us?
The season of Lent (the forty days leading up to Easter) gives us an opportunity to examine our thoughts and attitudes. Emptying ourselves before God prepares us to celebrate the wonder of Easter and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Lent invites us to sacrifice our own pleasures in order to focus more fully on Jesus, and trade in our propensity to covet the temporary plunder of this world for God’s abundant and eternal riches.
Dear God, help me be willing to wait for your perfect gifts, in your perfect timing. Amen.
Revised excerpt from Forty Days of Lint by Beth Vice. Available @ https://www.amazon.com/40-Days-Lint-Playful-Prepare/dp/1523307897/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Forty+Days+of+Lint%2C+Beth+Vice&qid=1582753389&sr=8-1
Beth Vice is a wife, author, speaker, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, and Jesus seeker. She loves taking care of her husband Kelly and the home they share on the Oregon coast. She teaches their Sunday morning small group and leads critique workshops at Oregon Christian Writers conferences, where she serves as the In-Person Critique Group Coordinator. Beth has six books currently available and is working on the next two—a divorce recovery book for women and a Bible study on Revelation. Beth has a heart for women; she has found new delight in leading retreats at she and Kelly’s vacation rental at Black Butte Ranch, and wherever else God might lead her. She blogs at Epiphany: http://www.bethvice.com/. Beth loves getting outside for hikes and gardening, but prefers snuggling inside with a good book or coffee with a friend, in nasty weather.