In our family, my wife and I seem to often be going in opposite directions. It’s not that our marriage is falling apart; it’s just that we have so many errands and responsibilities, we are often not at the same place at the same time (especially during weekdays). As a result, we have to keep an electronic shopping list. Sometimes, though, an item gets added to the list when we still have a can or or two of it in the back. Or, one of us will buy a large box of something (perhaps at a warehouse club), but forget to take it off of the list, so that the other person buys the same thing.
While we still run out of certain supplies from time to time, we also find that we are occasionally overstocked on certain items. (This afternoon, it would seem that this collection includes elbow macaroni.)
Some things are good to stockpile. Should there ever be a shortage of macaroni in our town, we’ll be set! Other collections, like grudges or garbage, should probably be thrown out.
Take a look what Jesus said in this passage from Matthew (or, better yet, read the entire chapter of Matthew 12):
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.
Matthew 12:35 NLT
While it’s appropriate to share our material goods, as God allows and directs us to, this verse seems to be talking about an internal “stockpile”. There is something in the heart of good people that results in their production of good things.
So, if we wish to be like the person described in the first part of this verse, what is needed to be able to live that out? Let’s consider this from the standpoint of someone who has a physical stockpile of something (for instance, an oversupply of pasta):
- First, in order to share good things from a stockpile, we must have a collection of good things in the first place.
- My family couldn’t prepare macaroni and cheese for visiting neighborhood kids, if we didn’t have macaroni (whether plain, or pre-packaged with an envelope of unnaturally-orange “cheese”).
- If we don’t fill up our minds and hearts with good content, we shouldn’t expect to produce good things. Yes, we might be able to carefully fake it – looking thoughtful and kind to others – when things are going well. However, if we are harboring evil in our heart, and dwelling on junk, we should expect our true colors to show under stress.
- Read Philippians 4:8-9 for instructions on how to do this.
- Next, if we have a collection of good things to share, they must be kept in good condition.
- If our family doesn’t keep the macaroni sealed, it could go stale or get bugs, making it useless (or at least inhospitable) for us to share with others.
- To keep those good things from tarnishing or rusting, I think that a bit of heavenly perspective is appropriate. When we take our eyes off of what matters, entropy and decay can set in – sometimes much more quickly than we expect.
- Read what Jesus said about storing up treasures in Matthew 6:19-21.
- Finally, hoarding beyond what we can consume is not particularly useful. The real value of stockpiling good things seems to be the ability to give them away.
- Let’s be honest: unless we are snowed in or another disaster strikes, having too much macaroni isn’t very useful to our family. But, if we share it (maybe by giving away some of our extra boxes, or inviting others to join us for a meal), then good can be done with the extra before it it goes bad.
- God did not give us good gifts to keep all to ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I think that He is glorified when we enjoy His gifts and give him thanks and praise. But, there are so many instructions in the Bible on how we should treat others, that it seems pretty clear our gifts aren’t meant to be kept all to ourselves.
- Read Romans 12:6-13 for some instructions on how we are to use what we have to serve others.
So, if you want to live like the good example that Jesus gave in the verse above from Matthew, make sure you have a stockpile of good things. Keep them in good condition, and give them away generously.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.