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The Lunch Pail

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Becoming dissatisfied with our circumstances starts early in many people. Even children, rather than being thankful, will sometimes grouse about the things provided for them. There is a story of a little boy from a time when children in small rural schools would bring their lunch from home in lunch boxes, lunch bags, or a pail that might have originally been a syrup bucket. This youngster was not happy with what his mother sent for his school lunch. He sullenly thought, “It’s just not enough and I don’t like it any way.”

In this attitude, he hit upon a plan. He would go to the place where all the lunches were lined up, and he would pick up each container until he found the heaviest one. Then, at lunch break, he would race to that spot, and when that classmate came to pick up their lunch he would offer to trade his lunch for it. He was sure it would work. So, the next day he picked up each lunch until he came to one in a shiny pail. It was the heaviest one of all.

When the lunch bell rang, he raced to the spot where that lunch pail was. Up walked a country boy to get his lunch, and the negotiations began. “Are you sure?” the country boy asked a couple of times. “Yes!” exclaimed the dissatisfied youth. He said, “I’ll even throw in my favorite marble.” So, the deal was made, and our boy rushed to a place where he could enjoy his big lunch. As he eagerly removed the lid from the pail, he was crestfallen to find the bucket contained a hammer and two hickory nuts! Things are often not what they appear to be, particularly if one is blinded by self-interest or greed. Let’s hope this lad learned a valuable lesson.

While this story may bring a chuckle or smile, it illustrates a Biblical principle that, if practiced, would solve a lot of personal problems. It actually goes back to the all-important Commandments given by God anciently to Moses and the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. The Tenth Commandment is very plain: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).

Our whole economic system is based on consumption, much of which is driven by desires created through skillful advertising and mass marketing. It seems that everything has to be much bigger, brighter, faster, and probably costlier than last year’s model. In this atmosphere, it is easy to get caught up in a spirit of discontentment, resulting in stress and unhappiness.

Jesus gave a stern warning on this subject while teaching the multitudes. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). The Apostle Paul continued this theme in the Book of Hebrews: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; ­be content with such things as you have…” (Hebrews 13:5).

Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prosper and enjoy the fruit of our labors, but it is important to have right priorities. Jesus made it plain: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

So with our physical means, we should meet our obligations to our family, and be prepared to help those in need. We should also support the Church and the Work that it does to preach the good message of the Kingdom of God and to “feed the flock” comprised of those who are seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness. What’s in your “spiritual lunch pail?” A balanced and contented approach to life, or a hammer and two hickory nuts?

Find out how to achieve that balance. Watch “The Seven Laws of Success,” parts I and II, today. You won’t feel disappointed.