"The fast I have chosen for you is t Share your food with the hungry."
Isaiah 58: 6, 7
EXPLORATION "Share" - To take part and participate for the common good and benefit of all. To partake equally."
What does "sharing" mean to me?
INSPIRATION "That's what I consider true generosity. You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing."
Simone de Beauvior
When I was growing up, my parents came up with a unique plan that taught my sister and me a great deal about the act of "sharing."
Since our family did not have a great deal of money, at Christmas my sister and I would each get one "big" present and then two or three smaller gifts likes socks or a nightgown - usually an essential we really needed. However, the "gift" gift was always something my parents knew we wanted like a special doll or for me, a set of Lego bricks (I loved building things).
Several months before Christmas, Mother and Daddy would take us to the local toy store and we would point out items we thought we couldn't live without.
Inevitably, the item I would get, my sister really liked, too. And the same thing would happen with her gift. I always wanted what she got even when I had chosen something different.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the only way my sister and I could get to play with the other's new present was to learn to share. And my parents, I know now, were brilliant and had figured this out. They taught us a great lesson that we still practice to this day - sharing for the common good of all is the best way to find enduring happiness.
Living as we do, in a dog-eat-dog world where climbing over anybody and everybody is encouraged as a fast way to get to the top - the idea of "sharing" has taken a backseat. In fact, I've even heard people say that it weakens your hand. Well, I say that is rubbish! The best in our world are those individuals who have poured themselves out to help others.
Not long ago I read that in the early days of Christianity, "heresy", as we might think, was not wandering from the orthodoxy of the churches' beliefs. Instead, it was, first of all considered to be a lack of charity in one's life.
In Act 2, a description is given about the way early Christians lived their lives. Sometimes it is easy to skip right over these texts that call us to, not only a different way of life, but also a better way of life. "And a sense of awe came upon every soul…and all who trusted Jesus Christ were united and together they had everything in common. And they sold their possessions and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And they were united in their purpose and in their homes they broke bread. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts. Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people" (Acts 2: 44-47, Amplified Bible).
I have to tell you, I think this is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. It puts a big smile on my face, when I read it because you can just feel the love these people had for one another. We are also told what the results of this love were in Acts 2: 47, where it says they, "Were in goodwill with all the people." Not some. Not just their friends. But—all the people. Who wouldn't want to be around people who shared so much that their love just poured out onto everyone they met?
Many years ago I read a story, that is still today one of my favorites and it illustrates beautifully the theme of sharing.
"Before the stranger came everyone in the small village was hungry. No one had enough to eat; each person hoarded what little he had. And the peasants feared strangers. A man who was an outsider came to stay in the village. One day he began boiling water in a very large pot. He then proceeded slowly and carefully to add very large stones one at a time. One of the villagers came by to look and stood for a very long time, watching him stir the mixture. Finally the villager asked, "What are you doing?" "I'm making stone soup," was the stranger's reply. "It's still missing something but would you like to try some?" The villager tasted the soup and agreed. Something was still missing.
"Maybe I could go home and bring you a few carrots to add to the soup," the man offered.
One by one the other villagers came. Each observed what the stranger was doing, and each asked about the odd soup made with very large stones. After a while each of the villagers offered to bring a little of what they could spare to add to the soup. One brought a few potatoes, another an anion, on and on until there were many rich and varied ingredients in the soup.
As they waited for the soup to be ready, the villagers gathered together around the pot, telling each other stories, feeling they were all a part of a celebration. Indeed, the soup was tasty and there was enough for all. They were nourished by the delicious meal and the teamwork that had made it possible.
"We shall never go hungry again now that we know how to make soup from stones."
"Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10: 8, K.J.V.).
The prophet Ezekiel, speaking to the children of Israel, described the kind of life we will have when we share: "Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships…doesn't refuse food to the hungry…this person shall live a full and true life - God has decreed it!" (Ezekiel 18: 5-9 Message Bible)
"A cup that is already full cannot have more added to it. In order to received the further good to which we are entitled, we must give of that which we have."
There is But One Source
Lord, When Did We See You?
"I was hungry and you helped my buy rice while trying for a long-term answer to my emptiness.
I was a stranger in a city where everybody is suspicious and you trusted me, put me at ease.
I was unemployed, without clothes, food, money or security. You helped me find a job and rebuild my life.
I was sick and unable to get into a hospital or see a doctor. You tried to find me a hospital bed and a compassionate doctor who was more concerned about my health than about the money I did not have.
I was in trouble with the law for my mistakes and you tried to defend me while encouraging me to change my ways; as no lawyer came forward I lost and went to prison for a time during which you came to visit me without judging me.
I was considered ‘low class' by other folks and you tried to give me status, face and pride in myself.
In all these difficulties you never really succeeded.
You just tried and that enabled me to plod on for the moment.
You stood by me and tried. That was all I needed to be myself in a place where I just existed.
You did these simple, compassionate things until the day when all systems, institutions and hearts were changed into a new history."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.