Portions for Those Who Lack

by J. R. Miller, 1912

After eating the fat and drinking the sweet of the feast in their own homes, the returned captives were bidden by Nehemiah to send portions to those for whom nothing had been prepared. "For this day is holy," was added to the exhortation. Part of the holiness of worship, is loving service. We are never to eat our bread alone; we are to share it. In Job's self-justification, when his friends had spoken bitterly against him, he says among other things: "If I have withheld the poor from their desires, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten thereof, then let my shoulder fall from the shoulder-blade, and my arm be broken from the bone." We may never eat our morsel alone, while others are hungry. This lesson was taught thus emphatically in the Old Testament and still more earnestly in the New.

In the Lord's Prayer, we are bidden to pray not for our own bread alone—but for bread for others as well. "Give us this day our daily bread." While we are feasting at our own table, we must remember those who are hungry outside, and send portions to them. The days are holy—all the days are holy, and no day set apart for God must be stained by selfishness. The direction that the people, after eating the fat and drinking the sweet of their feast, should send portions to those for whom nothing had been prepared, is in keeping with the teaching of the Bible throughout. The poor were always to be remembered. The stranger was never to be forgotten. He who let the needy go hungry when he had plenty on his own table, was severely condemned.

In the New Testament, the lesson was taught with marked emphasis. Generosity is a quality of all true Christian character. To think only of ourselves and give no thought to others, is contrary to the Spirit of Christ, who teaches us to share our plenty with those who lack.

Stinginess is always condemned. Generosity is always praised. It is a large word. It has a root which means excellence, goodness. It is a word of rank. Its first definition in the dictionary is "nobility." The word was applied only to the good, the brave, the noble. Christ was generous. He had largeness of heart, magnanimity. He taught his followers to be generous. The lack of generosity in one who calls himself a Christian, is a blot on his name. It marks him as unworthy. It dishonors him, as cowardice dishonors the name of him who calls himself a man. The brightest deeds that shine in the story of humanity, are the deeds of generosity.

Generosity does not merely return good for good, does not merely measure its giving by what it has received. Like Christly love, it blesses the hand that has smitten, it repays cruelty with gentleness, it serves most unselfishly, those who have done the sorest wrong.

Generosity is the perfect flower of love. It does not think who it is, who is in need—but gives and serves the unworthiest. It thinks only of the fact that there is one for whom nothing has been prepared, and sends a portion to him that he may share love's fat and sweet. Love is very sweet when it pours out its gifts for those who love us; but it reaches its sweetest and divinest--when it brings its blessing to those who do not love us, perhaps, who will never thank us, nor remember what we have done, nor return gratitude for our kindness. Let us cultivate the spirit of generosity, thinking ever, in our enjoyment of God's goodness, of those who lack the blessings we enjoy, and sending to them love's portion. Thus shall we continue the work which our Lord began in this world. Thus shall we enlarge our own hearts and the ministry of love we have been sent here to perform. Thus shall we come nearer and nearer to those who need us and more and more able to be a blessing to them. This is a lesson we cannot learn too well, nor fix too deeply in our hearts.

We sometimes forget that nothing is given to us--for ourselves alone. When abundance of blessing or prosperity in any form comes to us, we may not shut ourselves in with it, and use it only for ourselves. We are to think of those outside who have no such blessing or favor as we are enjoying, and are to send portions to them.