"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Saturday, January 29, 2011

HOW TO BE RICH - (3) Be generous

     In some missionary magazine--World Vision, maybe--I read about a banquet held for their supporters which I have never forgotten. The evening was festive, the attendees dressed up and expectant. Efficient servers poured from the kitchen with steaming plates of chicken, vegetables and rice, salad, and a roll and placed them in front of every third person. Then they disappeared back into the kitchen.
      Those who had been served waited politely for those next to them to receive their plates. But as time went on, those without food urged their neighbors to go ahead and eat, while the food was hot. Some did, some offered portions of their dinner to those next to them, some continued to wait.
     Finally, after about 20 minutes, the servers appeared again. This time they carried smaller plates. They put these plates before those seated to the right of the ones already served.
     These plates had only rice and beans on them.
     After another 30 minutes, the last third of the guests were served. They were given bowls of thin gruel.
     When people had had time to take in the disparity, the speaker for the evening rose and addressed them. He pointed out that one-third of the world had abundant food to eat every day. One-third of the world had adequate food, nothing fancy and little variety, but enough to stay alive. And one-third of the world went to bed hungry every night.
     He pointed out that when the hungry are sitting right beside us, our natural reaction is to share what we have with them. It is because we are separated by countries or continents that we can ignore their need.
     "Give as freely as you have received." One evening, years ago, my husband and I invited another couple to a church potluck. Because they were our guests and because their family of five lived off the husband's income so the wife could be a stay-at-home mom for their three teenagers, we did not ask them to bring anything. We brought two casseroles.
     At the end of the evening, each of our dishes were still about half-full. My husband put the covered dishes in the trunk of our car and we started to drive the other couple home.
     As my husband drove, God nudged me. I've felt His nudges before and I knew this was Him. He nudged me to give the leftovers to the other couple. I knew the wife, especially, had enjoyed the rare opportunity to eat out, eating food she didn't have to cook. She had exclaimed with pleasure over the casseroles.
     BUT--I didn't want to. I wanted to keep them for us.
     So we dropped the couple off without mentioning the leftovers and we drove home.
     The next morning I realized my husband and I had both forgotten to take the casseroles out of the trunk. The food in them was highly perishable and we didn't dare eat them.
     So instead of one couple enjoying the food and the other enjoying sharing the food, nobody enjoyed them.
     Because I closed my heart to the needs of others.

Today I am thankful for inhouses (as opposed to outhouses).

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