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When Possessions become a Prison

Jay E. Adams writes that under the roof in his back yard hangs a hummingbird feeder that he keeps filled with sugar water. There are four openings in it from which birds may suck the nectar. Yet, day after day, from early morning until after dusk, the feeder is the source of their own private version of star wars. One bird chases all the others away.

“As I said,” Adams writes, “there is room for four birds at a time, and fully that number attempt to feed. But the top dog (excuse my use of this metaphor for a hummingbird!), who now ‘owns' the feeder, will not let them. All day long he sits on the branch of a nearby apricot tree guarding ‘his' feeder and defying others to transgress on what he has established as ‘his' territory.

“This ongoing slice of life confronts us throughout the day as green and red hummers streak across the yard, the king hummer in hot pursuit of an intruder. While the chase is on, others sneak a sip or two, only to be driven off when he returns.

“The whole business has become a sort of parable for our family. Here is an example of grace: I bought the feeder; I supply the sugar water. The birds do not earn it; they receive it all FREE. Yet, day after day, they fight over who may enjoy it.

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“How like the people of God! All we have or are that is worthwhile is the gift of God's pure grace. And yet we can be proud, self-centered, envious, and quarrelsome. Often, we fight over God's good gifts rather than expressing our gratitude in humility and sharing what we have been given with others. Just as I am confronted daily with rivalry in my yard, even so God is confronted daily with rivalry in His.”