November 21, 2017, 5:09 am
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A cautionary tale on selfishness

A young girl was asked to take care of her brother. They were both studying in another city from where their parents lived.

The brother was quite the spender. He kept asking money from his sister, beyond his monthly allowance. And he came up with all sorts of excuses. One day, the sister, who had gotten weary of her brother’s constant requests for money, told her brother,

“If you stop bugging me for more money, I will give you my Christmas cash gift this year.”

When her brother heard that, his covetous little heart jumped with joy!  Wow. That’s a lot of money, he thought. All right, he was going to stop bugging his sister so he could get his hands on her Christmas cash gift! And he had no doubt that his sister would keep her word. Because he knew his sister had something he didn’t have: Integrity. And boy, was he going to take advantage of that!

The months went by and the brother was getting more and more excited as Christmas drew nearer and nearer. He knew he was going to get his hands on his sister’s money -- on top of his very own Christmas cash gift from their parents!!! He was so excited. He could hardly wait.

And he made sure he “behaved.” He stopped bugging his sister for money.

Then Christmas came. That year, for some reason, his parents were extra generous! (Maybe their dad got a raise or something.) So the Christmas cash gifts they got were a lot more than the boy expected. A lot more! And he was joyfully jumping inside -- “Yay! I’m going to be rich!  I’m going to get my sister’s share! That’s what she promised! She has to keep her word. She has to give me her Christmas money!”

That was what was going on in his head the whole time. And true enough, his sister handed over her Christmas money to him, soon after her parents gave it to her.

She was sad. But he didn’t care. He took his sister’s money anyway! He was justifying it to himself -- “Well. She has definitely more money than me anyway. She’s a frugal person. She’s got lots of savings. And I have no savings. So I need this more than she does. Besides, that’s what she promised! I didn’t tell her to make that promise. Even if she did it to stop me from bugging her about money.”

Many years passed. The older sister finished college. Her younger brother finished college, too. And they both got married. But their lives took very different turns. In the beginning, they were both doing well financially. 

Then one day, the sister chose to take care of her husband and children, so she gave up her high-paying job to become a full-time homemaker. The brother was thinking -- “Uh-oh. My sister is going to fall into hard times now... what a stupid thing, to give up her income!”

But to his surprise, that didn’t happen! Instead of downscaling their lifestyle, her sister’s husband was promoted, and they had even more money than before! The brother got envious. 

He, on the other hand, had a business that was doing fine at first. But years later, his income started dwindling. Life became harder and harder and harder, as he had less and less money. He was always financially hard up. Whereas his sister, who didn’t even have to work, was getting richer. But no matter how well off she became, his sister still did not overspend -- just like when they were in school. 

He used to mock her before, even in front of their friends. That she was kuripot. But she’d just laugh it away. Because it wasn’t true. She wasn’t kuripot at all! In fact, she helped out some of their poor relatives for years. But she wasn’t one to advertise it. So her brother didn’t know. 

One day, the brother thought about his life. He finally asked himself -- How come I’ve been financially hard up, most of my life? The only time I was comfortable was when I lived with my parents! But how come my sister has so much more than me now, even if she’s not working?

She has a beautiful house, nice cars, several maids, drivers, they can go to Europe whenever they want to, and they have absolutely no debts! How did that happen? We started the same way, financially!!! 

He thought some more, and was sometimes talking to himself: “Yes. My sister has had her share of problems in life (business failures, bad investments, career setbacks), but in general, she has always been blessed -- as if our parents (who passed away long ago) were still there, supporting her, and giving her Christmas cash gifts to see her through. But me, I’m always scrounging around for money. Always trying to make ends meet...” 

He was mulling over these things in his mind when out of the blue, a thought came through! It was as if someone spoke to him, in his head. The Voice said, “Yes. It’s true. I’ve been giving your sister cash gifts all this time -- and not just on Christmas. I give her money whenever she needs it; through people, opportunities, and circumstances. Because I’m her Father.” 

Before he could stop himself, the brother shot back: “Oh, yeah? Well, what about me? How come you haven’t given me any support?” 

The reply came quickly, in his head, “Well, you grabbed your sister’s Christmas money decades ago. That wasn’t yours, but you took it -- even if you knew she made that promise just stop you from bugging her about money. So since you took what wasn’t yours in the first place, you have shown selfishness. Greed. A lack of integrity. And those things have consequences... as you already know. Your sister, on the other hand, has shown her unselfishness and integrity. Those things are richly rewarded -- as you can see, in your sister’s life. Your earthly parents might have never known that you took your sister’s Christmas money. But I know. And I’m her all-seeing, all-knowing Heavenly Father.” 

I wish this story had a happy ending. But it did not. The brother remained covetous, deeply in love with money. Money blinded him to the finer things in life like Integrity, Unselfishness, Generosity. Nothing he did could make him financially well-off. God withheld from him the very thing that had become his Idol. 

So he spent the rest of his days in financial distress. 

Don’t forget -- we have a Heavenly Father Who knows and sees everything. He will reward those Who reflect His goodness. And He will withhold His blessings from those who run after their own gods.
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