I also observed my daughter and my sister's daughter (ages 3.5 and 2.5) and their love/hate relationship. They loved playing together! They laughed and hugged and chased each other and wanted to do everything that each other was doing. However, anytime we gave them anything, the other instantly wanted it. The younger wanted to go to the bathroom if my daughter was in there (despite not being potty trained!) If her cousin started to go toward a toy my daughter quickly got it first. There was lots of grabbing and lots of taunting.
As I watched the birds and the girls, I noticed a similarity. Both were being given pretty much free access to great gifts. My mom has an abundance of toys/activities/snacks for the kids. The girls and the hummingbirds could basically have whatever they wanted without limitations. Neither had to work for it. And yet, all they did was fight and stake claim for their own. Sharing didn't really occur (well, we did work with the girls so it improved, but not much!). As I was thinking about God and his provision and free blessings to us, I realized we often act the same. We stake claim to what he lays before us, not wanting to share or give or let go of what we have acquired. We want more and we want what someone else has if we don't have that. As Christians I've seen this (and done this) often. God is freely and richly pouring out his gracious blessings to us. Blessings we haven't earned but are freely given by him for his pleasure at our pleasure. Instead of immediately looking to share those blessings with others we hoard what we have. We hold tightly to financial blessings, storing up-especially in case of trouble down the road. We are hesitant to freely lend tangible things to others-or put many strings attached just to protect ourselves and our stuff. We covet blessings that others receive-we don't stop and give thanks to God for what he has given to us but want more. There's nothing wrong with wanting God's blessings for sure. However, when we are always comparing ourselves to others and what they are receiving and what we are not, that is problematic.
Sunday I had the joy of hearing a sermon by my former youth pastor. He quoted someone else as saying "the measure of our spiritual growth is our gratitude." Today, I'm working on increasing my gratitude. I don't want to look at others and what they have (and I may not) and be stuck in jealousy and disappointment. God has blessed us abundantly in all kinds of ways and I want to focus on gratitude. For I know that nothing I have done or ever will do earns me anything from God. His Son, his love, his awakening my heart to himself, and any things he bestows to me are all out of his grace. That is reason for gratitude and if he never does anything else for us on earth there is still much to be thankful for as we live for eternity and not just this life.