A certain man and his people
The persistence of doing the right thing without the prospect for a compensation, but the awareness of our own and others’ burdens.
This is expressed through an illustration based in a third world country that is on a path to an industrialized nation. A certain man, with his wife and their sons, though they lived in poverty, but there were those who lived in abject poverty. Regardless of their lack of many things, yet, an assembly of people always gather together at the shack of this certain man. There they studied the Bible, prayed, worshiped and sang praises to the Lord.
The certain man taught the people the importance of tithing. Though they had almost nothing to give, yet, occasionally, someone would give the equivalence of one United States penny. They worked in the fields, they worked in homes and off the streets, but for their abject poverty, they were compensated in the wages of food, instead of money.
At the end of every Church service, when a penny was received, he would walk 3.4 hours to the nearest shopping center. There he will meet with the store clerk and give him the penny, or a few pennies and ask him to keep it for him. The clerk didn’t understand why, but he felt there was something different about this man, something positive of which he could not explain. He accepted his request, and this went on for about a year. It was now late December, with snow on the horizon. The certain man woke up earlier than usual before the Church service that morning and walked many hours to the shopping center. There he met with the store clerk, and he inquired of the deposited funds. The clerk reaches down and brought up a small box filled with cash, shaking it in his hands, he emptied the small amount on his desk and counted it. Looking at the certain man, he announced the amount of money therein, the equivalence of $10. With a smile on his face and a bounce in his step, he signaled to the clerk that he will be back later.
That morning he preached from Galatians 6:9 to his Congregation. At the end of the service, he greeted them like always, but with a surprise news of taking them on a journey. The younger children with their parents, along with the teens and their parents, with the wife of the certain man and their two sons, they embark on the journey toward the shopping center.
There they waited in line with the rest of the shoppers, until it was his turn to face the clerk. He smiled, and said, you are back! He nodded with a grin, pointing at his Church members; with my family, he said. The clerk added, quite a large family, he replied, yes, my family in the faith. The clerk asked him, what can I do for you today, more deposit? With a big smile he answered, withdraw. The clerk thought within himself, $10, is he serious? He once again brought up the little box of cash, with others still in line waiting their turn. The certain man explained briefly the origin of the cash from the people, through tithes, a penny at a time and the time frame of its accumulation. He then handed it back to the clerk, asking him to offer them a hot beverage. We do not have much, but we will share what the money has to offer. However, at least we can have something pleasant for a few hours before the Christmas. The cups (Styrofoam mugs) and straws will be given to the younger ones among us as a present to play with for the Christmas.
This is how poor they were, but the smiles on their faces were radiant. However, virtually everyone else in the line, eyes were filled with tears. Many of those in line instantly offered them dinner at their homes, but for the number of their size it was almost impossible. The store clerk suggested, they could bring the meal later in his store when he closes. There they all can have dinner together. Though the shoppers return with meals, and other presents, but they could not stay due to the accumulation of the snow.
The duty of a good Christian is not only in giving a penny or more, but doing that which is right. This was seen among the certain man and his people. As they waited outside the store for the meals, they went on helping the shoppers with the groceries and carts. Many of whom in return give them a portion of the contents of their shopping carts with cash. They had so much, the only problem was how to take all back with them to their respective homes.
As the evening approaches, the store clerk stood outside with them. He could not take them in his car due to the weather condition, so he offered them to keep their gifts in his store, to pick it up the following day. While they talked, in the distance was a car, out came a big man in appearance. Without speaking, he hurriedly got what he wanted from the store, while returning to his car, his rush came to a halt. The sound of his acceleration grew louder, but his car stood still in the snow.
Two of the people of the certain man, went out to give the big man helping hands. Slowly the tires of his car rolled out, and he drove away. In the distance, he stopped and returned to the two who had just helped him. As he later recorded, he reached out his hand as a sign of a thank you gesture, but to his surprise, the hands of his helpers were rather small. Looking closer, he realized these were women who have just helped him push his car through the snow. They did not wear clothes to magnify their beauty, for they couldn’t afford the cost, they dressed to keep warm through the weather. He did not know what to think, according to him, he drove home with this thought of their hospitality on his mind. Upon arriving home, he handed over the ham to his wife and told her he was switching cars to use his truck with a plow, to plow the roads, and he will be back.
Now, back at the store, the certain man along with his people, took very few things from their many gifts and they were ready to trek home in the falling snow, then in the distance was a bright light coming toward the shopping center. It was the biggest car they have ever seen, out came a man, a big man. He walked toward them, revealing his face, he was the man they’ve helped minutes ago.
Where are you going, he asked? Home, they replied. In this snow he added? Yes, we are, together, we will make it home. Then tomorrow we will return with others to pick up our gifts from the good store clerk, they answered.
Looking over at the store clerk, he asked, you give them gifts? The clerk answered, not really, they’ve earned it themselves.
Their discussion came down to the big man agreeing to take them home with all their gifts at once. For the first time, the next day, on Christmas morning they had more than they could ever imagine. They obeyed the word of God by giving their tithes, a penny at a time, though it was little, but God remembers them in their giving.
We do not see all things at once, but we can trust the One who is able to provide all things we need. Has it not been for their giving through tithes, they wouldn’t have had a reason to trek to the shopping center and they wouldn’t have received all the good things in store for them.
In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 11 verse one, we read; Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days.
The water represents this world, and our interactions with those we meet in this life and our day to day decisions. Whatever we do, may we give it our all, and do our best. The way we talk to others, the help we give in times of need and doing that which is right according to the will of God. At times, the good things we do may seem futile, but let us continue to do that which is good. If not, let us learn to do that which is right, regardless of how we feel. This is the representation of casting our bread upon the water, which would seem wasteful if we consume it not.
F. B. Meyer wrote concerning this; The casting of bread upon the waters is an allusion to the oriental custom of casting rice-grains on the fields, when they lie submerged beneath the annual inundation of such a river as the Nile. To the inexperienced eye, this would seem as a waste, but the farmer knows full well that he will meet his seed again, but with abundant returns.
So it is in life, the good we do at times may seem exhausting and pointless, but let us continue. Regardless of how much we give, or contribute, or do.
Little is much, when God is the focus . . .
Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9)
Billy Graham once said, God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.
The benefit of tithing is not for the giver to be counted as a provider, but the seen and unseen difference we make by doing the right thing.
Try Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)