Monday, November 21, 2016

It May Just Be a Gel Pen, But It Means So Much More

A school teacher is beckoned over to a desk where a student has lashed out at a fellow student for ‘taking things’. The teacher is tempted to chastise the student who lashed out, but has the presence of mind to investigate the matter further. He finds out that the one gel pen that this student has was borrowed by the student with whom he lashed out. It turns out that the student who borrowed the gel pen has a thirty-pack of her own.
Things are often not what they seem on the surface.
Having taken the student aside who had lashed out, a child not normally given to losses of emotional control, there seemed a preoccupation with gel pens. The student asked how much a thirty-pack would cost. The teacher estimated them to be no more than $10. The student says, “Well, that’s not much, but my parents don’t have much money at the moment.”
As the teacher reflected, he thanked God for the biblical insight of Nathan’s parable of David’s hypocrisy and harshness — to take what was not his, when he already had so much, from a man that had nothing else:
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.”
— 2 Samuel 12:1-9 (NIV)
Talking with the aggrieved student it was clear that the one gel pen he did have was very precious to him; it was a cherished resource. The student who had taken his one and only gel pen without bothering to ask did not value his one pen; she had thirty of her own, so what did one from someone else matter? She treated that one gel pen as one of the thirty without regarding it as unique as its owner did.
The rich must learn one thing when it comes to using the resources of the poor: they must value the few resources preciously, which is very hard for a rich person, because having little is not something with which they can readily relate.
Anyone with a lot of anything ought to be careful not to exploit the resources of someone with next to nothing.

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