WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
I remember being told the story of the Dutch boy who saved his town by putting his finger in the leaking dyke. Peter Miller, in Encyclopedia Mythica summarizes the story like this:
“Dutch legend has it that there was a small boy who upon passing a dyke on his way to school noticed a slight leak as the sea trickled in through a small hole. Even knowing that he would be in trouble if he were to be late for school, the boy poked his finger into the hole and stemmed the flow of water. Sometime later a passerby saw him and went to get help. This came in the form of other men who were able to complete repairs on the dyke and seal up the leak.
This story is told to children to teach them that if they act quickly and in time, even with their limited strength and resources, disasters can be averted. The Little Dutch Boy using his finger to stop the flow of water is an illustration of self-sacrifice. A physical lesson is also taught: a small trickle of water soon becomes a stream and the stream a torrent and the torrent a flood sweeping all before it… “
Individuals sometimes question if what they do really makes a difference. The problems of the world are so large, and our resources are so small. But we can make a difference. We sometimes hear that sponsoring a child overseas will only cost us pennies a day, but that it will provide nutrition and education to those who otherwise lack. The money we give, the time we volunteer, the encouragement we give go a long way in changing people’s lives. Even giving up what we spend for a cup of coffee every day can change lives!
Jesus mentioned the importance of our little efforts making a difference to Him. He told the parable of the sheep and the goats. They were separated, and the goats were chastised, and the sheep praised. Matthew 25 records Jesus words:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
I’m reminded that our giving should not be for recognition. In the parable those being honored didn’t keep track of the good they had done. Matthew continued:
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Soon we will be pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving. Let’s take time to count our blessings, and then make sure that our lives are a blessing to others.