One morning savoring my coffee on the back patio, enjoying the coolness of the hour, and respite from the impending hustle and bustle of activities, I heard a variety of songs coming from many birds announcing the breaking of the new day. They are particularly welcomed to my yard with a large bird feeder filled with ample amounts of seed. I am not a professional bird watcher by any means; yet I do find joy in watching them eat, taking turns at the feeder. On this day I noticed a bright red cardinal making an appearance. His plumage was strikingly beautiful. He had an air of regal presence and watching him mesmerized me. As he ate at the feeder another bird flew up next to him. This bird was a common sparrow, unassuming and plain. There was no song with which to distinguish this bird. It’s gender was unclear due to the ordinary muted grey feathers. And yet they both were hungry and the food they found met their needs.
This scene took my thoughts to some of the characteristics of God. God being omniscient, knows each of our needs and is fully capable and willing to provide for them. He is the great giver to all. He does not look at us and say, “Well let’s see, you have been good, so I will provide sunshine, rain, shelter, food, and good health to you. And you over there, you have been bad, so you will not enjoy the shade of a tree or fresh water from a spring.” Matthew 5:45b ESV says, “For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
This called for the exploration and evaluation of my own giving tendencies. I was taught in church to not give under compulsion, but to tell people asking for something, that I direct my giving through my church. Giving to your local church IS Biblical with tithes and offerings, and many ministries are supported in this manner. Where does that leave those who have not stepped their foot across the threshold door of a church or never been a recipient of an outreach ministry? Are they not hungry, hurting, and in need of kindness? I dare say in the past I used my church giving as an excuse to not contribute to those “unworthy of my money, time, or services”. How was I to know they wouldn’t take the gift and purchase drugs or alcohol or any other thing not lining up with my value system? How did they get in this place? Were they foolish with their resources? Could they be con artists? I became judge and jury convicting many by appearance and supposition. Not until I had a shakedown with God did I realize that nothing was MINE in the first place. I was provided for and blessed to be a conduit for others. I was entrusted with what God gave me to share and become more like Him. I needed to release the rights of false ownership to what really belonged to God and start giving to those regardless of what they would do with it. My part was to be obedient to God and emulate His character. Luke 6:30 ESV says, “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes your goods do not demand them back.” The receivers are not in my judicial system. What they do, obediently or disobediently, is between them and God.
So the regal cardinal and the common sparrow are given life sustaining food together without judgement because God is good to all. Someone with the persona of wealth may secretly be needing a kind word of encouragement. Another elderly person may wonder how the weeds in their yard will be tended to and removed. A homeless person could be scrounging for food to give to their hungry children, forgoing their own needs. Even a fellow believer may be facing foreclosure or eviction or even the shutoff of utilities. Can we step out as free flowing vessels of love and mercy and give like God does regardless of our predetermined positions? May He help us in our journey of faith to become more like Him, remembering the cardinal and the sparrow alike.