The weirdest thing happened yesterday. I was just baking scones and listening to UCB radio. Now I regularly take a couple of any batches I make to my neighbours next door, who love home cooking, but don’t bake. They often do favours for me in the gardening department. I was just contemplating that I had taken them quite a few things recently, and this was not a large batch, so maybe I would pass this time on taking a couple next door. And it was raining. That very moment, the voice on UCB came across loud and clear. “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” It’s Proverbs 11:25. I took the scones round!
It is good to be generous. It is often rewarded in itself, when folk are appreciative, or when you get a little kindness in return. It’s nice too, to receive a little surprise gift or helping hand. But here’s the rub. If you are in a very needy situation, it suddenly becomes a really difficult thing to receive a significant gift. And for me at least, to ask someone for something I really need makes me feel so awkward, I’d quite honestly rather do without! I suppose it’s pride.
I wonder how the Israelites felt about asking their neighbours for silver and gold? (Exodus 11:1-3) No doubt setting out on a long journey, they would need all the resources they could muster, and as slaves, they wouldn’t have amassed much beyond the essentials. Maybe the culture was a little different in those days, but I bet it was still hard to ask. Yet God had seen to it that the Egyptians were favourably disposed towards them. They gave willingly! Moses had earned great respect, and perhaps the people had been good workers too. Maybe the Egyptians were glad for an opportunity to give to them a little of what they had really earned. Maybe they felt sorry for them. Almost certainly they were more than ready for the Israelites to leave their land so they might see an end to all the wretched plagues!
Giving and receiving work best out of relationship. We need to be in good relationships with others, and earn respect, as we never know when we might need them, or they need us. A close relationship with God makes it easier for us to as him for things too. And a close relationship with God also means he can ask us for stuff – even if it’s just to take a couple of scones next door!