“Moses said this about Dan. ‘Dan is a lion’s cub, leaping out from Bashan.’”
Really? That’s it? The tribe of Levi is dripping with praises and the tribe of Joseph is blessed with possessions and power but the tribe of Dan is pronounced to be an overgrown kitten. How is that fair?
And therein lies the problem. The last few generations have been taught that we can be anything we want to be, that we are all equal and therefore things must be fair. This thinking has influenced our theology and image of God and so we have an expectation that a fair God must treat us all equally.
But the reality is that we are not all equal. God may love Dan as He loves Joseph, but God did not make Dan and Joseph equal to one another. When we demand equality and life does not deliver, we complain and covet and try to pull our neighbor down to our level in order to force equality. And in so doing we violate the commandments of God.
Years ago I led an early morning men’s bible study and one of the gentlemen who attended was the epitome of gentleness and grace. We asked him about his upbringing and he spoke of being raised under the teachings of the old prayer book. (To him the newer BCP was the 1928. He was raised under the 1892). He spoke of the catechism that formed his philosophy of life. What follows is a pertinent section of that catechism.
Question. What is thy duty towards thy Neighbour?
Answer. My duty towards my Neighbour, is to love him as myself, and to do to all men, as I would they should do unto me: To love, honour, and succour my father and mother: To honour and obey the civil authority: To submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters: To order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters: To hurt nobody by word or deed: To be true and just in all my dealings: To bear no malice nor hatred in my heart: To keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering: To keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity: Not to covet nor desire other men’s goods; but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call me.
He spoke of the two sections here underlined and what peace they brought to his life. He recognized that he had “betters” and so he did not waste time and energy trying to be equal with everyone. In addition he believed that God had given him a certain “state on life” and that he was to be content in that state to which God had called him. This allowed him to avoid covetousness and resentment towards those who had more than he did.
He was in his retirement years and looked back over his life with gratitude. Gratitude is not possible if you resent others and carry anger that you are not being treated fairly. So if you are Dan you can spend your life resenting Joseph or you can spend your life being grateful that your name was even mentioned. This puts me in mind of Minnie Pearl’s philosophy that contentedly proclaimed. “I’m just proud to be here.” That is a great way to go through life.