Do You DIGLI?

“God loves inequality…

In terms of gifts, talents, abilities, opportunities, blessings, God is unequally lavishat least according to our standards, and that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” 

Joe Rigney, Desiring God Theology Refresh Podcast, 10/4/13

Why Differences Are Good

Differences mean inequality. And while some would have you think otherwise, the inequality inherent in our differences is actually a good thing.

In stature and smarts, in wealth and where we’re born, we’re all different. But that’s okay. It’s not a design flaw. God made us and his wide world to work this way and since He doeth all things well. Including the scattered way he hands out gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made (Psalm 145:17). Since God gave his gifts this unequal way, and He’s always loving and righteous, unequal must not be bad. The opposite must be true. In God’s economy unequal equals good.

Sure, we’re equal in the sense of being God’s image bearers, fearfully and wonderfully made. But since differences were arranged by Creator-He clearly dispenses his gifts in diverse and disproportionate ways, He must love inequality.

The body analogy helps us if we stall out here. The body shows us unequal does not mean unimportant.

And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. (1 Corinthians 12:16-18).

God scatters grace and mercy as he wishes on whom he wills. He is lavishly, unequally loving toward all he has made.What do you with this truth?

What do you do when you brush right up against God’s gifts and blessings to others?

Do you say, It’s so unfair and envy? Or, As you wish, Lord, and DIGLI?

The Great Leveler

Inequality doesn’t need a fix. We don’t need to level the playing field. Five is not equal to three and that doesn’t make either digit a more necessary number. The world would not be better off with just fours.

Dorothy Sayers said, Envy is the great leveler. And that it always levels down. Envy and the resentment would have us lower the blessing bar to the lowest common denominator. If I can’t make a six-figure income, you can’t either. If my kid can’t be a champ, yours can’t be either.

The world does not dig our DIGLI. They don’t get our happy dance and would ban the chance to dance it if they could. Wealth we redistribute to make it more even and our fair women push to be combat-ready rangers. We used to have a valedictorian. Then came two and a few, and a dozen. Now we scrap the whole thing. And forget the solitary youth league MVP. Let’s give all the kids a trophy.

Whatever happened to the love of the game and enjoyment of excellence and savor the beauty? What when he got game, and it’s others’ excellence, and her beauty. Can we love inequality then?

If we believe the world’s lie, that unequal needs a fix, we can’t. But if we have eyes to see unequal as God’s gift, we can and will DIGLI.

When I DIGLI

I love to get secondhand gifts. When God’s grace to others overflows to me, I’m not too proud to DIGLI.

I DIGLI when Stephanie’s piano and song sing me up like a saint and when gaze at how another friend Shari can paint.

Shari’s Sheep

I DIGLI when a service tech looks under the hood and can fix the clunk while I wait and when from Jen’s backyard pool I pause and look out on her Edenic estate.

I DIGLI when one son soaks up a poem and recites it so easily and when the other knows just who needs a hug and exactly how firm it should be.

I DIGLI when my fingers get red and my stomach grows full picking berries in my parents’ garden or lay lost in Middle-earth or Narnia, in Dumas or in Dickens.

I DIGLI when I belly laugh at Hawkins’ yoga pants and how to raise my hands and serious, too, when Platt and Piper preach it powerful and true.

So DIGLI I do. Do you? Do you Delight In God’s Lavish Inequality? You’ve got to have faith to love God’s scattered grace, to believe that the Word is true. Eyes of faith see his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he

When I Don’t DIGLI

Sometimes I don’t DIGLI. I don’t dance that happy dance when with view askew I compare God’s mercy to others with God’s (perceived) mercy to me. Sin is crouching at my door, and when I start playing judge and jury, resentment and envy will have me.

God’s lavish inequality is revealed not just in scattered gifts, but in how he administers mercy, too. The way God relents and forgives, how he just swoosh erases others’ duly deserved punishment, that inequality, is harder for the Pharisee me to DIGLI. Like these three:
  • No fair, Mom! Gabe bellowed. Why does Sam get dessert? You said if he didn’t finish his broccoli he wouldn’t get dessert and now you’re letting him have ice cream. That is not right!
  • I’m not so sure that’s how it should be, I reasoned. Why did the boss give her that promotion, when she was the one who lost that big account last year? That is so unfair.
  • Isn’t this what I said? That’s why I made haste to flee; I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful… relenting from disaster…Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.

It’s harder for me when God’s lavish inequality comes in the form of lavish and unequal mercy. Then in a hard-nosed, self-righteous huff, I sometimes choke on the inequality.

Gabe couldn’t lick his ice cream because Mom let Sam have his. I couldn’t see them giving her the job when I had served my time. Jonah couldn’t abide God’s mercy to Nineveh when he knew how wicked they’d been.

Yes, God, we do do well to be angry. This is not as we wish. We will not DIGLI. 

How to Dance the DIGLI

Then again we’re pricked, the brute beast in us knows: we’d be so much better off back on our happy feet. These three have helped me to delight in God’s lavish inequality.

  1. Own the body analogy. When I see someone with gifts and abilities and blessings, which might be God’s gracious pardon, do I see God’s hand in it? Do I give thanks to the Giver of all gifts, who arranges all the parts of the body as he sees fit? Do I delight in secondhand gifts?
  2. See yourself in the Bible stories. Are you Cain or Abel? Saul or Jonathan? Are you Jonah fuming under the shriveled vine. Do you cry, “Your mercy is too great. No fair. Why?” If you do, and I have, repent. Ask God to help you say with John, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
  3. Give thanks. Anger and envy can’t dwell in grateful hearts. So anchor yourself in God’s grace with gratitude, says Rigney. Be grateful for gifts God gave them, including his mercy. No wrong has been done because God blessed them. There’s plenty of grace to go around. God won’t run out.

As You Wish

You all remember the beginning of Princess Bride, right?

Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Wesley around, Grandpa read.

Farm Boy, polish my horses’ saddle. Farm Boy, fill these with water. Please fetch that jar.

“As you wish,” was all Wesley ever said.  

Then one day Buttercup was amazed to discover that when he was saying,

 “As you wish,” he was really saying, “I love you.” 
 
It is that simple. Wesley’s words of true love and devotion should be ours, too. When we trust God, we DIGLI and say, As you wish, Lord. And then, we’re really saying, I love you.

So Lord, please help us to be glad in the ways you dispense your grace and mercy. Help us to say, and mean. ‘As you wish, Lord.’ Help us delight in your lavish inequality. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weened child with his mother;
like a weened child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2