Monday, February 8, 2010

A DOZEN ROSES FOR A PLACE TO STAY?

As a teenager, I spent a summer working in my uncle’s poultry processing plant in Indiana, called, “Wilson Poultry Company”. I stayed with my paternal grandparents, who lived next to the main building.

I was born in Swaziland, Africa, so I did not realize how much my grandparents loved me.

An overhead line facilitated the process of dressing chickens, which were soon packed in ice, ready for sale and delivery. I couldn’t help but notice that others had stools that rested their feet as they worked all day. I mentioned this to my grandfather, who then personally built me a stool. I appreciated the stool, but after a few weeks, I was asked to help my cousins deliver to grocery stores and restaurants all across central Indiana.

So, the new stool sat in a corner.

Soon a co-employee asked me if I wanted to sell it. I liked the thought of some extra money, so didn’t think twice, as I accepted the low-priced offer! However, I was totally unprepared for the grief of my grandfather when I told him I had sold his love for a few coins!

Several weeks ago, in a similar kind of spirit, I accepted the loan of a sermon on CD. After listening to a small portion of it, I put it on a shelf for “a more convenient season”.

I was not ready for the urgent request to return it after several weeks, so that someone else might enjoy it. Promising myself that I would finish listening to it before I saw them again, I looked for the CD, but it was not where I had laid it.

I had no peace as I frantically searched, in regret, for the CD. While I was readily forgiven, I lost a little more of the “treasure of trust” that day, that I could not afford to lose!

Towards the end of the day, a friend and I were enjoying coffee and a bagel at a local coffee shop. A nicely dressed lady approached us, with a dozen beautiful roses in her hand. I was surprised when she said she wanted money for food, and a place to stay. She implied that she would give a rose in exchange. As she explained it, she said, “Please, I ask for help in the name of Jesus!”

I told her that I didn’t give out money in this way, but that I would buy her a meal. I asked her for her preference. She said, “Buy me what you want.” I went to the counter and bought her soup, a roll, and pastry.

Upon return, I said, “I noticed that you asked for this in the name of Jesus, and I give it to you in His name, please enjoy it! But, always remember that you cannot ‘use’ Jesus like a commodity!” As she took it, she immediately asked for money for a place to stay. I immediately recognized the spirit of ingratitude that I had personally demonstrated towards both my grandfather, and the people who had loaned me the CD, so I forgivingly offered a chance for her to get such assistance through the Salvation Army where I volunteer in such programs. She looked at the floor, shuffled her feet, and walked away.

No wonder things were not working for the religious leaders of Jesus day – they understood sacrifice, but did not understand mercy. (Matthew 9:13) They came, hoping to impress Jesus to buy into their scheme.

Jesus was acting according to his Father’s plan of mercy, in the spirit of the Love of God. This would eventually cost his very life. Why would he cater to someone’s preference? (Matthew 19:16-21)

Mercy implies that we demonstrate knowledge of another’s genuine need. If I attempt to sell the love of a grandfather for a few coins, God may put me under the discipline of learning the needs of others. If I attempt to explain my lack of gratefulness by saying, “I’ll listen to the sermon on CD when I get the time”, God may put me under the discipline of trying to find it in order to return it.

Can you see how it must have saddened Jesus to see the rich young ruler choose his own wealth over the wealth of the universe? Picture Judas regretfully trying to return thirty pieces of silver. Appreciative love is still the highest law, and it cannot be bought.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Thank-You Paul!!