A Fishy Tale

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I received a fish tank in my teens. I’m not sure if it was for my birthday or some other holiday, but the point is I got one.

And I got plenty of fish I loved to watch and in my period of fish ownership I learned something about greed and how silly it is.

During my fish tank days I got some tetras-which are a breed of fish recommended for beginners.  One in particular turned out to be fairly aggressive. During feeding instead of focusing on eating the flakes, the aggressive fish would chase the other fish around the tank to make sure the other fish didn’t get the most flakes. 

But the odd thing was that despite all the time it invested chasing the other fish around the tank to ensure the others were not eating so it had flakes for itself, a lot of the flakes were sinking to the bottom of the tank simply to be eaten by ghost shrimp and/or dissolved in the water to be filtered out by the water cleaner.

If that fish wasn’t so selfish and shared, it likely would have had a lot more to eat than whatever extra it seemed to think it was getting by preventing the other fish from eating. There was more than enough fish flakes to go around but because of one fish’s greed probably more sank to the bottom than were eaten by any of them. That fish probably would have had more if it shared more.

While it is easy to see the folly of this fish’s attempt to be better off through greed from the outside of the tank, inside the fish’s narrow world view-focused on itself as the center- just how counterproductive  its greedy behavior was seemed to go completely unnoticed. Sure that fish may have successfully kept the other fish from eating much, but in doing so it also robbed itself of a nice meal as well.

The only ones really benefiting from the fish’s greed were the ghost shrimps on the bottom, which isn’t bad, but it goes to show that the one who wasn't sharing, was the one that was really losing out by not doing so. Greed doesn't stop the blessings of others, it stops its own. Again, it is easy for us to say, “Oh silly fish” from outside the tank, but from inside the tank of our own lives are we really any better?

We can be as foolish as that fish by thinking we are getting ahead by withholding things from others in the workplace and school to ensure no one else gets ahead, expecting that by so doing we will hold on our success. But in reality we are starving ourselves of our own blessings by closing our hands to others. We are the ones who lose out the most when we don’t share. It is true that we may gain stuff by denying opportunities to others, but we lose character and relationships. "The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper." Proverbs 28:25 

God sees the whole situation clearly from outside the tank of our lives, and that is why the Bible says, “One who increases his possessions by usury and extortion gathers it for him who will pity the poor.” Proverbs 28:8 and “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” Proverbs 21:13.  

However, “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 Like the fish, we may not see how this makes sense from our perspective, but God see from the outside of the tank. God is not trying to make you lose out by sharing, He just knows you are losing out by not giving.

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