March 25, 2011

Mr. Roth

I would like to share a story with you that I read recently. It is written by an unknown author. . .

. . . An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. We were certain that he was either homeless, an alcoholic, or both. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bid us good morning and offered his produce for sale. We were uneasy enough to make a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear.

To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize that it wasn't alcohol, but cataracts, that marbleized his eyes.

On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes and pull out a harmonica. With glad eyes set on a future glory, he'd puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.

On one visit, he exclaimed, "The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my front porch."

"That's wonderful, Mr. Roth," we said. "We're happy for you."

"You know what is even more wonderful?" he asked.

"Just yesterday I met some people that could use them." . . .

It is not uncommon for poor people to be generous. As a matter of fact, poor people are probably the most generous people on earth. What makes this' story all the more beautiful is that in this man's poverty, he served other's needs rather than his own.

Truth is, terms like small and large, tall and short, attractive and homely, rich and poor are relative terms. What is rich to one man is poor to another. In the case of Mr. Roth, poverty was something of which he considered himself immune. Why?

The story answers the question quite well. He had his eyes set on a future glory. Mr. Roth was rich in spirit. When we long to see Jesus face to face, this world seems to lose its appeal and importance.

So I encourage you to be like Mr. Roth, honestly assess your own needs, serve others, and set your eyes on a future glory. You may be amazed at how effective your personal ministry will become. And who knows, maybe you will entertain angels without knowing it?

"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints." (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

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