Do You Begrudge? Or Do You DIGLI?

DIGLI dad and daughter happy dance

“God loves inequality…

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

Joe Rigney

Inequality is not a design flaw.

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

In beauty and intelligence, in wealth, health, and family of birth, we’re all different. By each of these measures, we are not equal.

But such inequality is not a design flaw. 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.

But you are right: we are equal in the sense of bearing God’s image and being fearfully and wonderfully made.

But since differences were arranged by the loving Creator, and He dispenses his gifts in diverse and disproportionate ways, inequality must be good.

The body analogy helps us here.

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).

Our bodies teach us that God designed and arranged “unequal” body parts. He scatters grace as he wishes on whom he wills. And He is lavishly loving toward all he has made.

What do you with this truth? What do you do when you brush 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?

I mean, do you Delight In God’s Lavish Inequality?

Do you DIGLI or do you envy?

Envy: The Great Leveler

Contrary to popular opinion, inequality does not need a fix. We need not 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.

Author Dorothy Sayers wrote, Envy is the great leveler. And 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 shouldn’t either. If my kid can’t be a champ, yours shouldn’t be either.

Really?

Not Digging Our DIGLI

But get ready. The world may not dig our DIGLI. They won’t get our happy dance.

It redistributes wealth to make it more equal and pushes fair women to be combat-ready. High schools used to have a valedictorian. Then came a few, or a dozen. Now many scrap the whole thing. And forget a youth league MVP. Everyone gets a trophy.

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

Delight In God’s Lavish Inequality: DIGLI

My favorite dress is a hand-me-down from my friend Christin. I love secondhand gifts.

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

I DIGLI when I listen to my friend Rebecca play piano and sing.

I DIGLI when a service tech looks under the hood and fix the clunk while I wait.

I DIGLI when I feast from my friend Jen’s gorgeous charcuterie board

I DIGLI when Tolkien and Lewis transport me to Middle-earth and Narnia.

I DIGLI when my cheeks are sore because of Tim Hawkins’ yoga pants.

When do you DIGLI?

You must have faith to love God’s scattered grace. Because only eyes of faith can see his works are perfect; a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

But I don’t always DIGLI.

When I Don’t DIGLI

I don’t dance that happy dance when I compare. Instead, I covet what she’s got or complain about what I haven’t got.

But I can also complain about God’s lavish inequality as he offers mercy. The way God relents and forgives—how he just, swoosh, erases others’ punishment—that inequality of mercy can bring the Pharisee out in me.

And Pharisees don’t dance.

We become self-righteous, “equality” seekers when we say,

  1. I’m not so sure that’s how it should be. Why did she get picked when I’ve been here longer and I know I worked harder? That is so unfair.
  2. Isn’t this what I said? That’s why I made haste to flee; I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful… yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.
  3. 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!

It’s hard to swallow God’s grace sometimes. I choke on mercy when I compare.

Life is better on happy feet. So let’s dance the DIGLI not begrudge God’s generosity.

How to Dance the DIGLI

These three practices help me to delight in God’s lavish inequality:

  1. Embrace the body analogy. When I see someone with gifts and abilities and blessings, do I thank the Giver of all good gifts who arranges the parts of the body as he sees fit? Do I delight in his secondhand gifts?
  2. Find 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’s too great,” or rejoice with the blessed?
  3. Give thanks. Envy cannot coexist with gratitude. So anchor yourself in God’s grace with gratitude, says Rigney. Be grateful for gifts God gave them. No wrong has been done because God blessed them. His grace won’t run out.

As You Wish

Do you remember the beginning of Princess Bride? The part when Grandpa read,

Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Wesley around.

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 dance the happy dance.

When we DIGLI we are really saying to God, the Giver of all good gifts, As you wish, Lord.

Which is really saying, I love you.

Dear Lord, please help us to rejoice in the ways you dispense your gifts. Forgive us for our envy and discontent. Help us to say, and to really mean, “As you wish.” Help us delight in your lavish inequality. May we forever be to the praise of your glorious grace. Amen.

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?

–Jesus, in Matthew 20:15