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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Friday, August 1, 2014

SELF SUFFICIENCY VS CHARITY

It has been fashionable in some circles to disparage charity as making
people dependent on charity. Consider the recent debate about giving
free diapers. Those who felt that this would only encourage people to
expect handouts. What is wrong with the old fashioned cloth diapers?
Certainly when one can "teach someone to fish" it is better than
giving them fish. But consider the Gospel account of feeding the
5,000.

Rich and poor, outcasts and well respected individuals must have been
in the crowd. For sure there were some very sinful men as well as some
very upright individuals who crowded in to hear Jesus. They came to a
deserted place and the day was getting late. The apostles knowing
their lack of resources and the late hour suggested the practical
solution of sending all these people home. They could take care of
themselves whether they had food at home or could purchase it in town.

But Jesus responded in a surprising way. He told his disciples no,
they should be fed by them. Consider this congregation. There was no
separation of deserving or undeserving. No judgment as to those who
came out of curiosity or those who came to make fun of this latest
messiah or those who followed him everywhere he spoke.

The apostles were overwhelmed by the immensity of need. What could so
little do in the face of this magnitude? This question often comes up
when confronted by overwhelming need and how little our resources
really are. What dent does a sandwich do in the face of homelessness?

There is another very interesting interpretation of this Gospel event.
After everyone was seated and Jesus blessed the food and gave out the
two fish and two loaves. Others who had prepared for a long day
reached into their sacks and began to share what they had with those
around them. Thus everyone in the end was fed. This is reasonable, but
I still prefer the miracle of multiplication. Reaching into ones
basket and always having something to give even to the point of
leftovers.

Faith calls us to believe if we give thanks to God for what little we
have (blessing) thus acknowledging that what we have is not just what
we have earned but rather how we have been blessed by God. This
measure of faith multiplies. When we believe we are the source of
"life's blessings" are due to our own hard work and thriftiness, then
it divides. It may not be sensible or even practical. Others may say
it is unrealistic, but true believers can recount the miracles that
when faith is moved by love to share it can do the impossible.

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