He Who Has Compassion For the Poor…

Theory and practice are often two different things. Often, there is also a great difference between knowledge or insight and our actual physical actions. But God knows our heart and also our responsibility. He often has remarkable ways to open our eyes. The following story is from ancient times, but its lesson is as relevant today as it was then.

Ferdinand, the son of a rich miller, unwrapped an appetizing lunch packet on a school outing. His mother had packed some sausage, ham, hearty bread, and a bowl of pancakes, as well as an assortment of snacks. His classmates sprawled under a shady tree. Each ate what they had brought from home.

Fritz, a little boy who looked very pale and miserable, sat next to the rich miller’s son and ate the dry bread that his mother had given him. Another comrade handed him an apple and a pear. How happy Fritz was about that!

The rich boy, Ferdinand, did not even think of offering poor Fritz anything from his bountiful meal. When he had eaten all the pancakes, with great astonishment he read the inscription on the inside of his bowl:

If you overlook the poor man still,
You do not deserve to eat your fill.

Suddenly, his conscience was stirred, and he handed poor Fritz a piece of sausage. 

“Come on, Fritz, surely you can still manage the sausage; it tastes really good. When we are back home, you really must visit me,” Ferdinand said to him.

His father, the rich miller, prayed daily: “Lord, give the poor something to eat, too. It was a good harvest year, and no one should go hungry.” 

But when a needy person asked him for a little grain, he always said: “There may have been a good harvest this year, but my supply is just enough for us. I’m sorry. Perhaps someone else can still help you.”

One day, Ferdinand had heard him pray so piously again.   

“Father,” he said, “if I only had your grain!” 

“My grain? What do you want my grain for?” he asked in amazement.

“Then I would answer your prayers and give some food to the poor.”

The miller understood very well what his son wanted to tell him. When Fritz came to visit that afternoon, the miller sent along a full sack of grain for his mother. From that day on, the rich miller provided for the poor family and gave many other things from his abundance.

Today, we generally live in unprecedented prosperity. But not all people are doing so well. Some may have come into great need through no fault of their own. When God opens our eyes about this, let us not close our hearts. Let us be faithful stewards of God’s rich blessings. Helping someone in a practical way can often provide an opening to share words of salvation and make the Bible’s words of comfort credible. 

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