What is the opposite of being thankful? I think the opposite of thankfulness is covetousness. To live a thankful life is to live in grateful contentment. To live a covetous life is to live in dissatisfied restlessness – never to be happy with what you have because you always want more.

And covetousness is ultimately self-centred – a covetous person wants to have beautiful and desirable things for himself. He wants to reach out and claim beauty for himself, not to let someone else have it.

Really, a covetous person is like Shelob in J.R.R. Tolkien’s great classic of the Christian worldview, The Lord of the Rings. Do you know who Shelob is? She is the massive spider who tries to kill Frodo and Sam on their way into Mordor. The description of Shelob is repulsive: she “only desired death for all others, mind and body, and for herself a glut of life, alone, swollen till the mountains could no longer hold her up and the darkness could not contain her.”[1]

Doesn’t that sound just like a covetous person? At root, when we are covetous, we are desiring life for ourselves and only death for others. And apart from the grace of Christ, each of us would be another Shelob – a bloated spider trying to suck all the happiness out of life, even if everyone else is miserable.

But how different is God’s love; how different is God’s constant impulse to give of Himself! God does not seek to take in; He pours out! He is a fountain of love and giving and joy! Jesus didn’t come like “a thief” to “steal,” but to give “life … more abundantly”! (John 10:10) The Father is utterly happy in His Son, and seeks to share that happiness with His creatures.

And if we want to be like God, we must give instead of seeking to get. We must be thankful and giving, not covetous. And we can do this out of the fullness of Himself God gives us; our needs will always be met, so we need not hoard for ourselves or live as pinched paupers. We can give and love!

Don’t be a Shelob; be a thankful giver!

[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers, 1986 mass market paperback ed. (Del Rey), 376.