In economics there’s a term known as a “zero-sum game.” In practical terms this means that if I get a bigger piece of the proverbial pie, it means you have to get a smaller one, because the total size of the pie is set. In other words, in order for one person to win, another has to lose. By definition, everybody can’t win.
This phenomenon is not limited to economics. Children around the world experience this when they compare their servings of their favorite holiday treat. “His slice is bigger than mine” is not an uncommon dinner refrain. Instead of rejoicing that there’s goodies to enjoy, they are busy comparing how much of a blessing they each received.
A lot of people continue this proclivity through adulthood and apply it to how they lives their lives. Their rationale is that if someone gets something I want, it means I’ve lost. So instead of rejoicing when a friend gets married while I remain single, I’m angry that the ring is on someone else’s finger. When other families are expanding, while mine remains the same, I get bitter about my lack of progeny. When someone else’s fortunes rise, and mine do not, malcontentedness floods my life. We act as though when something good is happening to another, by definition something bad is happening to me.
However, just like the comparing children, our focus is on the wrong thing. We shouldn’t be looking at what we’ve been given in comparison to what others have received, but we should be rejoicing that we experience any of God’s blessings at all. And while surely there will be times in all of our lives where somebody else gets something that we want, as Christians we know that God desires to give good gifts to His children, and that as His heirs we’ve already received the best blessing, even if we have to wait until we experience it in full measure. We are to be content with what we’ve been given because we know that ultimately, our “piece” is coming from a bigger pie. Our inheritance is of eternal value so anything, even the good things, that happen on this Earth, don’t measure up to our share of heavenly blessings.
It’s easy to be disgruntled with all that we desire, but don’t receive. But instead of making comparisons, may we increasingly look to all that we have been given and give thanks.