Tom and I just returned from a wonderful time away. This time of the year, before the rush of spring activities begin, we often take a few days and “come apart for a while,” so we don’t come apart! Our favorite get-away place is called Frosty Hollow–a beautiful Bed and Breakfast snuggled into Sweden Valley near Coudersport, PA. (It really is true that there are more deer than people in Potter County!)
While there, we decided to play a few games that were on the shelf: Tom picked Monopoly. I cringed!
“But when do we ever get enough time to really play Monopoly,” he asked.
And so we pulled down the beautiful Millennium edition of this timeless game and began to play. Memories flooded my mind: playing it with friends, playing with our children, and playing it as a child. Funny how some memories are lodged in our brains forever! As a child, we’d often play the crazy thing for days and leave it set up in the living room. One very cold morning, we had some of the neighbor kids come and wait for the bus inside our home. That night, we discovered that some of the playing pieces were missing, never to be found! (If you knew me, you’d know how I HATE missing pieces of anything! That’s probably why the memory sticks!)
Anyway, I wasn’t holding out much hope for enjoying the game, but I have to admit–it was fun! Tom would say that it was because I won, but as I kept thinking about it, I realized it was because we applied the Ten Commandments to the game!
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
That includes yourself! As mature adults 🙂 we both were concerned with more than just winning or having a great time–we were focused on keeping a right spirit and testimony, even though no one else was watching! God first, always, even when playing a game!
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
IT’S JUST A GAME! Our own gloating can become an image that we worship! Because we were having such a great time, we were able to see our own gloating and laugh; but when someone is busy building their own graven image of themselves, it is hard to stomach. How often do we set up the image of success before anything else: our spouse, our children, our church, our God?
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
This really had no application to us and Monopoly, but I couldn’t help being reminded of the Master Club’s hint for children to remember this command: WATCH YOUR WORDS! Obviously, we should NEVER use our God’s name vainly; however, we also need to watch other words and reactions. Because we were applying the other commandments, this one was not an issue. I didn’t get mad when I landed on Boardwalk, and Tom didn’t pout because I owned all the railroads. Healthy banter, yes, but IT’S ONLY A GAME!
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
I suppose we really didn’t apply this one either, but then maybe we did! Even before Tom was a pastor, we kept Sunday for God. I can only remember once that we had to travel on a Sunday and missed church. How Satan has tricked us on this one into thinking that we can’t do otherwise! Don’t get me wrong, there are times when this is true, but beware: LIFE IS NOT A GAME!
Honour thy father and thy mother:that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
I love this verse and the promise that it holds! But for us and our Monopoly game, perhaps it should read: Honor each other that thy game may end well! That’s what we did. Our relationship was much more important than winning a game. Isn’t that true with life? How often do we sacrifice the relationship to get our own way! We’re worse than children and as blind as bats!
Thou shalt not kill.
Murder on the Monopoly board–that’s what we do! We just love to kill our opponents one overwhelming rent-due at a time, and thrill in our victory! This a relationship killer; as is an unforgiving spirit or a lack of mercy towards those we live with.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
And how does this fit in with the game? I’m not sure! If nothing else, looking at them all together has shown me that many of these commandments are built on the same issue: selfish pride!
Thou shalt not steal.
Have you ever had to play with a cheater? It’s so frustrating because the rules are null and void. However, there’s another sense of stealing that often happens in Monopoly. We steal another’s victories by grumbling and pouting. I’m not writing this for children! Adults are just better at masking their grumbling and pouting! Then again, maybe not! 🙂
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Liar! All three of these last commandments go together. When playing a game, it takes away all the fun–the main purpose for playing a game in the first place, at least in our home. When living life, lying is possibly the greatest destroyer of all relationships. When you lose trust, what is left?
Thou shalt not covet… thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s hotels, nor his Utilities, nor his Railroads, nor his Community Chest, nor his Get Out of Jail Free card, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. 🙂
In our house-rules, after all the properties were sold, we would negotiate in exchanging properties so that all players would have sets, trying to be as equally fair as possible. We actually did a bit of an experiment: Because I owned the railroads and the utilities, I ended up with three sets and Tom have five, generally well distributed; however, he did own one whole side (the red and the yellow for you Monopoly enthusiasts). We weren’t sure if it was equal or not, but I won! You must throw in that thing called chance. I seemed to be in jail more than I was playing. Tom really loved Pacific, especially after a put a hotel on it ($1275!); and he LOVED riding my railroads at $200 a pop! Somehow I seemed to be able to tiptoe through his red and yellow right to “Go to Jail!”
Life is not a game, but may the Lord help us to see life and His commandments through the eyes of a game! Sometimes, these timeless truths just need a new focus! So, whether we are playing a game, or living life to its fullest, don’t forget to apply the Ten Commandments. They don’t save our souls, but they will bless our homes!
Let the games begin!