Desert Father: Double Shame

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Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28

“Someone begged an old man to accept some money for his needs, but he refused saying that his manual work supplied all that was necessary. When the other insisted that he should accept at least enough for his essential needs, the old man replied, “It would be a double shame to accept it: for me to receive what I do not need, and for you to give what belongs to others.”

A Desert Father in The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers: Systematic Sayings from the Anonymous Series of the Apophthegmata Patrum, trans. Benedicta Ward (Oxford: SLG Press, 1986) no. 126.

Today is Thanksgiving in America. If you get this post, I am thankful my website is back up. Daily, my web security says it’s under “brute force attack” and I got hacked again on Tuesday. God has been gracious to get it going again. To read yesterday’s post, scroll down to locate it.

On this Thanksgiving Day, if God has given you the strength to work and supply resources sufficient for your needs, give thanks. Count your blessings! You are among the half of the world’s population positioned to give. The other half has insufficient resources to live.

The unnamed desert father reminds us that its a “double shame” if we keep any surplus or to accept further resources when were are not in need. I realize that what I am saying is un-American, but it’s thoroughly Christian to share along these lines.

We live in a time that considers it shameful to live a life of dependence on God and interdependence on others. Alternatively, the Apostle Paul talked about sharing surplus in his second letter to the Corinthians. Take his words to heart so that your giving reflects dependence on God and care for others.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

Imagine you are the Christ follower in need. Let your requests be made known unto God. Do you want fellow believers to share with you? Take inventory on this Thanksgiving and plan some generous giving. Share with others as you would like them to share with you.