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.
— 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.