Generating justice and hope in our neighborhood must be at the heart of us.
We do not generally hand out resources; we extend a resourceful hand.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Luke 11:5-13
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
More thoughts to ponder
Sometimes you just have to carry people. They are never going to be OK enough to sustain themselves in our uncaring world. We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
But most of the time, people are a lot more capable than they give themselves credit for. Plus, their poverty or problem may not be their fault, it may be systemic. They may need help to figure out how to respond in creative ways to their situation. The real blame for their lack of self-sufficiency may be in the hearts of the people who blame them for not overcoming the impossible. So our friend says: “We give people fish. We teach them to fish. We tear down the walls that have been built up around the fish pond. And we figure out who polluted it.” ― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
Shane is talking about the old adage: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Generally, we want to give people a helping hand, not undermine their dignity by arranging for them to be unnecessarily dependent, in one way or another. Besides, we are often in a mess like the people we would like to help! Plus, we don’t have a bunch of resources to hand out, anyway. So we need to get together with Jesus and one another and work for peace and justice — and not get stuck in mere self-reliance. We need to work against the systemic injustices that keep people away from resources and that waste and destroy them — and not pretend we are all equally, individually capable of overcoming the impossible.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Thank you for the good gifts you have given me. Help me to receive and to give in the same Spirit.
We worry an awful lot about whether we are “throwing our help down a rathole” when we serve people who don’t seem to get better, or who don’t want to! We are so sure of our own importance and of the scarcity of our resources that we protect ourselves from being “spread too thin.” There is some truth in that. There seems to be a limited amount of “fish” to hand out. That is, they seem limited until they are in the hands of Jesus!
Spend a minute connecting with the endlessness of God’s grace. Bask in the generosity you have been shown in Jesus. See if it loosens you to act likewise with the needy and difficult people you might meet today or tomorrow.