Not For Sale
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Share Even if You Have Good Reasons Not to
The apostle Paul exhorts the Romans to distribute to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality (Rom. 12:13). It is not always that sharing is easy. There are three things that make sharing difficult:
i) The difficulty experienced by the giver.
Sharing is difficult when one doesn’t have enough for oneself, leave alone surplus. We saw above that John the Baptist exhorted the multitude that came to him to share if they have extra. Nevertheless, elsewhere in the Bible it is evident that we don’t need to have extra in order to share.
We read about the Zarepath widow who didn’t even have enough for herself and her son. The prophet Elijah appeared into the scene when she was at the verge of preparing the last supper after which she and her son would starve to death.
“Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
“And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.”—1 Kings 17:9-15.
There is not so much talk about faith in the Old Testament, but the widow acted in faith. What the prophet had asked was extremely difficult. Elijah had directed that he be served first. She had all the reasons to refuse to share, but she decided to heed the servant of God. It was a beautiful story that happened after she defied all odds to share. Note that it was God who had commanded the widow to sustain the prophet (v.9). The widow didn’t seem to have had an encounter with God, she was therefore not expecting Elijah. God had however prepared her heart so that as Elijah spoke to her, she caught the conviction to do as Elijah had asked. Can we discern the voice of God in a man’s? O Lord, help us know your voice, for there lies our subsistence and sustenance.
I personally had an experience where I had to share the little food I had. In what I called A Watchman at the Veranda, I already shared the details of this experience in the book Virtue That Counts (1) and I may not duplicate the whole story but only summarise what it was about.
It was about a caretaker that was employed by my landlord. I was newly employed and the government would take three months to process my salary. At the meantime, life was difficult. Despite this, the caretaker, who had mastered the times for my meals, used to come at my veranda almost everyday. He would clear his voice to alert me that he was there. I would invite him in and share the meal together. After feeding him for a stretch of time, I decided that enough was enough. One day, he came at the veranda as usual and cleared his voice but I ignored him. The Holy Spirit spoke to me, asking if I would just eat while Christ was out there at the veranda clearing His voice wanting to come in for a meal.
I reluctantly invited the man in and decided that I would not ignore him again as long as he came to eat with me. As a result of that, God opened my eyes to see things I had never seen before in Matthew 25.
ii) The difficulty experienced by the receiver
Though there are people who may take advantage of the poor and get from them even the little they have, many people would be very reluctant to accept a gift from someone who doesn’t have much. I have heard of cases where servants of God refuse to accept a gift from a person who is struggling. If it was not for the fact that God had spoken to the prophet Elijah, he could have found it extremely selfish to want to be served first with what was not even enough for the widow and her son.
Some of the people struggling to make ends meet may plead with a servant of God to accept a gift because they are under the conviction that God has instructed them to give what they are giving. It is important to note that if it is God who has instructed someone to give, then it doesn’t matter how little the person has. One doesn’t need to have extra in order to give. The apostle Paul gave an example of people who were poor but gave more than anyone would imagine possible. In fact they pleaded with the reluctant apostles to allow them participate in giving.“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”—2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
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