Not a Sugar Coated Book

I’m pretty sure my children would not eat Shredded Wheat if each bite was not half-covered in sugar. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t either. Have you ever eaten them that way? Ugh. Pass the sugar bowl. Human beings would coat the world in sugar if they could. The witch in the Hansel and Gretel story knew what she was doing.

 This principle applies to most areas of life. To “sugar-coat” an event is to leave out the negative and only discuss the high points. This can be quite a temptation! Who wants to bother with details that might be disturbing, damaging, or critical? Who wants to see something clearly when all of the flaws stand out? Ugh. Forget the negative and pass me the sugar bowl.

 Thankfully – by God’s incredible design – the Bible is not a sugarcoated book. The Bible is more concerned with the truth than with painting a rosy picture of its heroes. We can see this throughout the Old Testament. Abraham lies about Sarah being his wife (Genesis 12:10-20). Jacob cheats, lies, and steals (Genesis 25:29-31:55). Jacob’s sons are jealous and murderous (Genesis 34:25-29; 37:17-36). All of this (and so much more!) in the Bible’s first book! The Bible does not see these events through rose-colored glasses. The Bible gives us the people of these stories as they were – warts and all.

 In reading through these stories recently, I was struck by how negative it all is. The sinful tendencies of people, described so clearly, ruins lives time after time. These stories also gave me hope. First of all, it is good to know that these are not Greek demigods who float above the rest of us. These characters are just like us with the same weaknesses and follies. Second, it is clear that God wanted us to know that what we hold in our hands is the truth. The Bible doesn’t just inflate the weaknesses of Israel’s enemies and exaggerate the goodness of the heroes. The Bible does what it promises … it gives us the truth. The truth has a sweetness about it that needs no additional sugar. 

-Michael Casey

Your Neighbors Ox

I don’t know about your family, but when our family reads the Bible together, it can get interesting. When the Israelites reached Mount Sinai, one of our children provided the thunder sound effects. When we read about the people grumbling and complaining in the desert, my kids were as indignant as Moses. When we came to the Ten Commandments, their reaction was mild until we came to the last one:

 

17“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”  (Exodus 20:17, ESV)

 

They couldn’t hold back the giggles. “Your neighbor’s ox?!? Your neighbor’s donkey?!? Oh man, my donkey stinks. Look at HIS donkey! Whoa, now that’s a nice donkey! And look at that ox!”

 

Who knew so much comedy could be found in the Ten Commandments. We don’t own oxen (enviable or otherwise) in our neighborhoods. But notice that last line: “… or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Forget his ox, do I covet his car? His boat? His amazing vacation? Do I wish I had her shoes? Her kitchen? Her perfect children? Will future generations giggle when they hear about how I pined over a neighbor’s new digital gadget?

 

The command against coveting shows that God cares about my thoughts. God looks to see if the daily bread He provides will be received with gratitude. Will I be content with what I have or will my heart be longing for what others have? The person who trusts in God and delights in the blessings from His hand can live simply. Turn your heart away from your neighbor’s ox (no giggling, kids, this is serious!) and walk in the joy of contentment.


-Michael Casey

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