“Let No One Leave Hungry”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations

Even though Facebook does its best these days to compete with television for the title of “vast wasteland”, one occasionally encounters a gem on it that—hopefully—justifies reading through all the rest.  For example, the other day, a friend of mine posted this description of his grandmother:

What my grandmother lacked in money she made up for in love.

She was proud to say that no one came to her home hungry and left the same way. Her first words were always, “Want something to eat?”, and her last, “Want something to take with you to eat on?”

Many of us have been blessed by knowing godly women of a similar temperament.  My own mother was that way.  My sister still likes to tell the story of how she and her husband were leaving my parents’ house, and my mother kept trying to give her something.

“Would you like this?”

“No, Mom, we don’t need that.”

“How about this?”

“No, thank you.  Don’t need that either.”

And so forth.  Finally, in desperation, my mother picked up one of her potted plants off the front porch, held it out to my sister, and asked, “Well, would you like a pansy?”

Some find joy in accumulating.  Others find it in giving.  It’s no secret, I don’t think, which of these attitudes is godlier.

Indeed, the spirit of giving is the spirit of Christ.  As Paul observes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, He gave everything He had so that we might become rich.  He sacrificed Himself so that He could fill our deepest needs.

As disciples, we could do far worse than taking the words of my friend’s grandmother for our own.  We ought to go through our lives doing our best to make sure that no one leaves us hungry.  Sometimes, this occurs without metaphor, through a literal filling of bellies.  I know I appreciate it when brethren share their food with me!

However, it ought to be much broader than that.  Thankfully, we live in a country where physical hunger is rare.  However, the hunger pangs of the American soul seem more piercing today than ever before.  So many feel lonely, isolated, depressed, overlooked, and worthless.  Doctors prescribe antidepressants by the bushel, yet the epidemic of misery continues.

Perhaps the problem is that we have become so affluent that we have forgotten the value of the things that money can’t buy.  I recall reading some years ago that the average American only invites someone else into their home once a year.  It is far worse to live in a mansion that is empty of human contact than to live in a cottage that is filled with love and laughter and friends.

None of us can change our society singlehandedly, but we can change the lives of the people around us.  We can make sure that they don’t leave us hungry.  We can show them that they matter by the way we speak and the way we listen.  We can expand an everyday contact into a meaningful one.  We can leave a life a little brighter than it was five minutes ago, not through any special skill or talent, but simply through love. 

This manner of living doesn’t lead to any earthly recognition, though a surprisingly large number of people may show up for your funeral.  It will not attract the attention of the miserably self-centered world, though it will attract the Lord’s attention.  Nonetheless, not letting anyone leave hungry is one of the few things that we can do with our lives that will make an eternal difference in the lives of others.

Do not despise the day of small things.  In the end, the small things are the ones that matter.