Even in times of prosperity and welfare, there are some countries where orphaned children live on the streets, searching rubbish dumps for any items that might earn funds for sustaining food. Living from day to day, these children depend on finding just enough to keep hunger at bay. One such boy was Alfred. Out of luck, he had gone three days without eating. Weak with hunger, he arrived at a house door, intending to ask for some small assistance, but when his knock was answered by a girl of his own age, he felt too ashamed to beg for food and muttered a request for water.

“Wait here,” said the girl. She went indoors and moments later, returned with a mug of milk, two large cakes and some water, offering more food when the household meal had been prepared. “How did you know I was hungry?” Alfred asked. “I could see it in your eyes,” replied Suza. “They are the mirror of the heart.”

Satisfied and sincerely grateful, Alfred went on his way. “I will pray that God will look after you. He loves you Alfred,” Suza called out.

Years passed. Suza’s parents died, leaving her with a younger sister. Their savings diminished. Then Suza became ill and her only means of survival was to undergo an urgent operation, which was performed ahead of the medical bill. Suza was in utter despair, having no possessions to sell, nor friends or family able to supply a loan, she could not cover the expense.

Two anxious weeks passed. Then, one day a nurse handed Suza her exit documents along with a letter. In complete amazement, Suza read a copy of her long-ago conversation with Alfred the street boy. Weeping, she recounted the story to her sister. “Do good to everyone even to strangers. God knows all we do,” she whispered through tears of relief. Alfred, now a qualified doctor, had noted Suza’s admission to the hospital where he now worked. He was able to offer her a job when she recovered, and stated that her medical bill had been gladly settled by a mug of milk, two cakes and some water.

Jesus urged his disciples to “Lay up treasure where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Ref. Matthew ch.6v21) Our resulting Western interpretation has sometimes been of a treasure chest of wealth awaiting our arrival in our heavenly abode, a kind of in-trust account or a mystical stocks and shares benefit. However, put into the context of the request to “do good unto all mankind,” we can shift the mental image of treasure to the yet unknown ripple effects that deeds of kindness, support and genuine concern have produced. Salvation is not earned by works, but active faith will work out the blessings of God’s gift of salvation in us.

The glorious surprise in heaven could be in seeing at last, the accumulation of relief, joy and inspiration that our love has supplied. The treasure garnered by generosity (and sometimes self-sacrifice) will be evident in the eyes and hearts of those who were rescued in times of struggle and despair.

Such treasure is priceless, like the unsurpassing love that we ourselves have first received from God.

Acts of kindness to our fellows may often be misted over in the histories of daily life, but in that holy place where true love, layer upon layer, builds in sustaining value, the treasure endures, an enabling force of vitality in the lives of glad recipients. The early church understood the principles of methodical and unstinting care. We can continue in their wisdom and embrace.

Proverbs 3v 27,28. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act … or say I’ll give it tomorrow, when you now have it with you.”

Iris Niven

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