Day 33: Matthew 5:42

When someone asks you for something, give it to him.  When someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.

 [This is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching about true justice.  He is explaining to his disciples how they can bemore faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.” (See Day 23)].

There is a poem written by Robert Fulghum called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  It included important life lessons like “Don’t hit people” and “Clean up your own mess” and “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.”

But the #1 Rule was “Share everything.”

Our best friends in Chicago were the Davises.  They were an awesomely amazing family.  We learned a lot from them. They taught us about black culture; we taught them about white people and their ways.  We ate together, went to church together, made music together, took trips together, looked out for each other and shared life’s ups and downs.

Kathy and Melvin Davis didn’t have regular 9 to 5 jobs. Melvin worked a few hours a week as a church janitor and made a little money here and there working at various odd jobs. Kathy was the best mom ever so she watched other people’s kids for extra income. She also worked as a school bus monitor at the local elementary school.  The Davis’ had 5 kids and lived in a 2 bedroom apartment.  When the kids got too big to sleep in the same bed they put up bunk beds in the dining room and used the second bedroom as a giant closet.  It worked.

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I learned so much from them.  I learned that you don’t have to have a lot of money to have a lot of fun and raise terrific kids.  I learned that our society is awash with stuff, so you don’t have to have much money to have a nicely furnished home and tons of clothes.  I learned that if you don’t have a full time job you don’t fall off the face of the earth.  I also learned that you don’t have to be rich to be generous.

Kathy and Melvin shared everything with others. They didn’t have a lot of money, but they shared all they had.  Sundays were a big day at the Davis house.  Melvin was a fantastic cook and he whipped up a giant feast every Sunday.   With fried chicken, baked or bbq chicken, spaghetti, greens, green beans, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and tons of corn bread.  We spent many beautiful Sundays over there eating with them, along with many other people from the neighborhood who lived alone or were having trouble making ends meet.  So much food, fun, and laughter!  There was always enough to eat and plenty of love to go around.  I miss those days.

Later on I helped out with a homeless ministry at our church.  Again I was impressed with generosity of people who have so little as they consistently reached out to help others within the homeless community.  What are “things”, anyway?  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Just stuff.  This is a very present reality for the homeless.

It seems like the more we have, the less generous we tend to be.  I used to work as a waitress and they always said that the richer they are, the smaller the tip.  It makes no sense.

In mainline churches, sharing is an important part of “social justice” ministries. This is the concept that it’s incumbent on those who have more than they need to help make sure that everyone has enough.  Opponents of mainline social justice concepts think that if you give people things it makes them weak.  They think a healthy society is one that is fueled by greed and selfishness.  Jesus, I am sure, would not agree.  Neither would your kindergarten teacher.  Talk to that teacher about trying to work with a classroom full of greedy selfish kids who don’t want to share.

Kindergarten Rule #1 – Share everything.  If someone asks you for something, give it to them. God provides.  There is plenty for everyone if we aren’t afraid to share.  Maybe not everything we want, but everything we really need.  And the more we give away the more we have.  More friends.  More love.  More inner peace.  So in my opinion it’s a very good rule and Jesus agrees.  A good rule indeed.

What does this scripture say to you?

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2 thoughts on “Day 33: Matthew 5:42

  1. When I spent a lot of years working with addicts and homeless folks and learned that generosity seems to be inversely proportionate to income. I think maybe it is because people with money/stuff are scared they will lose it….but…if you have nothing, there is nothiing to lose. It changes your whole way of looking at lfe.

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