And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” – 1 Kings 19:20 (ESV)
Elisha was leading a pretty average life when Elijah found him in the field. One of Elisha’s main concerns was his parents, about whom he cared a great deal. Realizing he had been selected by Elijah, he requested permission to go tell his parents goodbye. At this point in time, Elisha was to join Elijah to minister to him and provide him with companionship – much as he was undoubtedly doing with his parents.
As you go through your daily life, you may have no idea how much of your efforts are actually meant to prepare you for God’s calling. Showing love and compassion goes a long way, both in your home and in the world around you. As we learn, live and teach the Golden Rule, we may be preparing ourselves for the greatest task of all – for as we do unto the least of these, so do we unto Him.
The lessons my wife, Jennica, and I have learned over the years by sponsoring children have been tremendous in teaching our six kids (ages 6 months to 10 years old) about serving the poor. For each one of our children, we’ve added a sponsored child from a different country. In connecting with children all over the world, we’ve learned so much.
The first lesson to teach your children is: you can make a difference! There are 1.4 billion people living in poverty. Sometimes, when I hear that, I think how can I make a difference in a number that large? You don’t have to impact the 1.4 billion people, you only need to change one life at a time.
Poverty is breakdown of relationships. First, the relationship between man and God: when we do not see God as the solution to our problems, we cannot begin to solve them. Secondly, our social relationships: poverty emerges when we abandon our responsibilities to each other. Thirdly, our physical relationships: God gave us the task of being stewards of his physical creation, the Earth, and we must honor that task. Finally, our relationship with ourselves: we must see our own inherent worth and dignity as beings made in the image of God.
In the Bible’s story about the loaves and the fishes, we learn about how God can provide for us even when we have only a little. When a group of five thousand people followed Jesus to be healed, only five loaves of bread and two fish could be found for a meal– clearly not enough food for thousands of followers. But Jesus took the bread and fish, gave thanks to God for His bounty, and gave each person present as much food as they wanted for dinner. In the end, there was even food left over!
Pray for those in poverty. Praying opens your heart to God to receive the compassion that He has for us, so that you can teach your kids to become cheerful givers. You can pray to Jesus for the strength to make sacrifices large and small, so that you can happily contribute your own resources to the people who may not have the same privileges that you do.