The Frog in the Pot
Drop a frog into a pot of boiling water and it will leap out to safety. Put that same frog in that same pot. Start with the water at a comfortable temperature and very gradually heat it to boiling. The frog will adjust to the rising temperature, stay put, and die. I have never performed or witnessed the experiment, but have heard of it many times in presentations on overcoming unhelpful human habits.
Our relationship with money, and the belief system with which it gradually ensnares us, is much like the frog and the pot of water. The peril is to our lives in a relationship with our Lord.
I am continually amazed by the faithfulness and joyful relationship with the Lord that is exhibited by people who possess very little, at least by our standards. There are many examples of Christians in impoverished countries, and even poverty-stricken portions of our country, exhibiting more joyful and more thankful relationships with the Lord than people who live in greater prosperity. The marketplace and its messages erode our faith and our thankfulness gradually and seductively. That erosion is to our peril, much as gradually raising the temperature of the water in the pot results in the frog failing to notice its increasingly dangerous circumstances.
Our economy must continually expand. As a result, the marketplace cannot allow us to be thankful. Thankfulness suggests both satisfaction with what we have and delight in it. The marketplace prospers on our dissatisfaction with what we have and an absence of delight. It holds out the promise that if we just purchase the next version of what we already own, or buy the right products to improve ourselves and our lives, we will be happy. But, it cannot allow us to experience that happiness for long or we will decrease our spending.
God provides a different economy. But, it is an economy that is difficult for any of us to embrace because the overwhelming din from the marketplace is so seductive and convincing. The Lord promises to provide what we need. Unfortunately, the marketplace warps our understanding of what we need.
As we become overwhelmed by what we think we need we are quick to forget the very reason that we exist. God created humankind to delight him and to be his partner in caring for his creation. Being thankful to the Lord drops in our attention span as we are more and more seduced to dance to the tune set by the marketplace. The seduction of the marketplace creeps up on us gradually, as the water in the frog’s pot came to a boil gradually. We can resist it by living in thanksgiving in every aspect of our lives. Certainly, that includes the giving of our “time, talent, and treasure” to the church, but it requires generously sharing of the Lord’s bounty in all that we do inside and outside of the walls of the church.