“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:16 & 17
A mound of cherries still warm from the orchard waited in a bowl on Grandma’s table. Glossy and dark they tempted my teeth to pop their taut skins so that their sweet juice could fill my mouth.
“You’ll have to wait until everyone comes to the table.” Grandma said. That meant I had to share them. I could have eaten the whole bowl. It would have been the perfect gift.
Today, some fifty-five plus years later, I could still eat the whole bowl. In fact, I often do. Now, instead of fresh from the orchard, I buy my cherries at Costco. Or Giant. Or Farmer Johns. I’m not picky as long as I can get my cherry fix. Often they never make it home. No joke. This has gotten serious.
My husband is not much better. Together our cherry consumption has reached, well . . . . . I haven’t added all the receipts. I have plenty of grocery money. It’s my personal first world problem, and if I calculated the cost I would be coming out of denial. That’s never fun. Besides, after all, cherries are a good gift from God.
It’s not just cherries. Today, in town for one short errand, I got ambushed. Flat out ambushed at the sales rack in Kohls. A sale! Yep, another good gift.
Young children are climbing over fences so they can be fed while the cost of my perfect cherry gift from God adds up. Fellow human beings in a far off country fight a plague while I indulge. Hungry neighbors in a housing development wait for their Social Security check while I rifle through a dress rack.
In case this is beginning to sound like some well-healed, old woman’s guilt trip, l want to quickly add that my monthly budget includes charity. It does. I just write the check and send it off. Another personal first world problem. But if I did without a cherry’s succulent flavor for a few months, now that would be a sacrifice — close up and personal — an addiction not easy to break.
I wonder, just maybe, if I went cold turkey and stopped eating cherries, who I might benefit. What would happen if one by one, like a society slowly learning to recycle, we would all choose just one thing, especially one addictive thing, to do without and give its equivalent value to someone in need?
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” But what is “poor in spirit”? I’ve been unsure for many years. This week in his podcast, (Here’s the link.) Herb Montgomery answered my question:
“The poor in Jesus’ day were one of the groups who were considered to be living contrary to the Torah and who were therefore being punished by God. The poor were oppressed and marginalized by the rich. Rather than feeling compassion for the poor, those who were better off simply felt morally superior. Why else would God be blessing them economically while withholding blessing from others? To be poor in spirit simply meant to stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor, those who were economically oppressed.”
Do I stand in solidarity, in spirit, with the poor?
Even though God’s gifts are good and perfect it doesn’t mean I get to hoard them. It means I get to share them.
I’m going to try to get on the wagon. I think I’ll start with cherries.