When I was a child I had a habit of grabbing money I saw laying around the house. It seems that no matter what the tender—whether a bill or coins—it had a magnetic force that attracted my hand. My parents would ask, “What happened to all the coins in the jar?” or “What happened to the five dollars that was on the table?” or a frequent question that I was asked as a teenager, “Where’s my change?” Confession: I was a grabber. I grabbed at money that wasn’t mine.
As a child and teenager I displayed a common behavior of all humanity—grabbing.
In Genesis 27, we read the account of Jacob and how he lived up to his name, “Heel-Grabber.” Jacob is the poster child of what it means to be a grabber—to grab for things that aren’t yours. As for Jacob, he grabbed for his brother’s position, which included the blessing of the firstborn—the family inheritance.
In an effort to grab (steal) his brother’s inheritance, Jacob colluded with his mom to dress up as Esau and prepare a meal (just as Esau would have prepared) to serve his father and manipulate his dad into believing that he was Esau. Jacob manipulated, deceived, and lied his way to getting a blessing. Interestingly and ironically, he did all of these things to get something that God had already promised to give him. But rather than trusting God for the blessing, for the inheritance, he took it upon himself to grab it.
Going back to my adolescent and teenage grabbing years. When I would take the money or keep the change without telling my parents, I was grabbing (stealing) a blessing. The ironic thing was that my parents constantly gave me money. If I ever needed anything, my parents were quick to dish out the money to provide for my needs—and many times, my wants.
The truth is, blessings aren’t meant to be grabbed, but are meant for God to give.
Only God can give us the blessings we crave and long for. Blessings that will fully satisfy and fulfill. Only God can give us what our hearts hunger for: permanent joy and happiness. Thus, when we take it upon ourselves to grab and steal blessings that only God can give we are still left empty, unfulfilled, and dissatisfied—even though we may bring momentary happiness in our life. As a result, we are left crouching down like a lion ready to pounce and grab another blessing.
How do we know if we are grabbing for blessings rather than waiting to receive God’s blessings? Here are five characteristics—taken from the life of Jacob—of grabbers.
- Grabbers become mask-wearing hypocrites. For Jacob, he pretended to be Esau in order to grab the blessing. In other words, he became someone he was not. Many people pretend to be someone they are not in an effort to fit in with a group and satisfy their desire to belong. This is one of the ways people become addicts. They give in to peer pressure at a young age in an effort to fit in, and the next thing you know, they are full blown alcoholics or drug addicts. They become someone they are not in an effort to grab a blessing and then it backfires and destroys their life. Women do this to grab the blessing of companionship and love. They loosen their morals in an effort to feel loved. They become someone they aren’t or don’t want to be in an effort to grab for something that they crave.
- Grabbers are scared that someone might find them out. Although Jacob wanted the blessing and was willing to go through with the plan, he was scared that his dad would find out, and instead of receiving the blessing he would receive a curse. Ultimately grabbers aren’t secure in who they are and what they do. They live life scared to death that someone might uncover the fact that they are insecure, lonely, broken, sinful, deceitful, selfish, self-centered, and a fake. In our culture people are good at playing hide-and-go-seek. Men don’t want their wives to find out about their internet history and so they delete the cookies. Couples are great at hiding their problems from others, because they don’t want anyone to know they are struggling at home. “Scarredy-cats” are usually grabbers.
- Grabbers use people to get what they want. Jacob grabbed the blessing by playing into his dad’s weaknesses. He exploited his dad’s age and handicaps. Isaac was blind, weak, and hard of hearing. Jacob also exploited the weakness of Isaac’s stomach by serving him a delicious meal that his mom had cooked. When asked how he was able to prepare the food so quickly, Jacob responded, “the Lord your God granted me success.” So Jacob exploited Isaac’s spirituality. By exploiting Isaac’s weaknesses Jacob grabbed the blessing. Grabbers use people to get what they want. It’s the same today. People exploit other’s gullibility, lack of discernment, situation, hopelessness, and idols in order to fulfill things like their lust for sex, money, power, and success.
- Grabbers don’t hang around to be seen—they are in and out. Right after receiving the blessing Jacob high-tails it out of there. He can’t hang around because Esau is on his way. He got what he came for and now he has to go. In short, grabbers don’t pursue authentic community. This point is connected to #2. Because they are scared to be found out, they don’t linger anywhere for very long. The longer they stay somewhere, the deeper their friendship goes and the closer they are to being found out. This is one of the main reasons why our culture has, what I call, “drive-thru relationships.” Our relationships are more like fast-food joints. They are quick and cheap. They usually go like this: “How are you doing?” to which we reply, “Good;” “How’s your family?” to which we reply, “Busy.” We have a hard time going below the surface, because if people start drilling beneath the surface they might find that we have insecurities, idols, brokenness, and sin.
- Grabbers don’t celebrate the blessings of life because they ultimately don’t feel right about them. Jacob did not celebrate the blessing of the firstborn (which was a very privileged and honorable blessing). He couldn’t! Why? Because it wasn’t his to grab, it was God’s to give. He also couldn’t celebrate it because Esau was coming home and about to spoil the whole thing. The truth is, it’s hard to celebrate what’s not yours. It’s hard to celebrate when you are not fully satisfied. It’s hard to celebrate when you don’t feel good about what you have because you’re constantly longing for more. When people grab blessings in their own way, through their own means, in their own timing, and for their own pleasure and glory, there’s some internal mechanism that makes them not feel right about what they have.
In closing, are you a grabber or a receiver? Are you a taker or a rester? Are you a grabber constantly looking for the next thing in life that will bring you joy, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction? Or do you rest in the goodness and grace of Jesus, receiving His grace, love, position, forgiveness, belonging, legacy, longevity, and peace, which brings true and lasting joy, happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
Looking back at my adolescent and teenage years, I wish I would have understood that the money I was grabbing (stealing) was already mine because I was the child of my parents. In other words, what I grabbed was ultimately mine because of my relationship with them. But because I grabbed it in my own way, through my own means, and in my own timing, I became someone I wasn’t. I became scared that my parents would find out. I did not want to look them in the eye when they asked about the money, and I never really felt right when I had that money.
May we understand our grabbing tendencies, realizing that the things we grab for in order to fill our lives and bring us joy and happiness are blessings that God wants to give us in His own way, through His own means, and in His own timing because we are His child. When we understand this, then—and only then—will we be in a position to be fully satisfied!