The Opposite of Hoarding

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 11.24-25
One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
    another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous person will prosper;
    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
People curse the one who hoards grain,
    but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

Ephesians 4.28
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.

Reflection: The Opposite of Hoarding
By John Tillman

Hoarding in a financial investment sense (buying up enough of a commodity to influence its market price) can net speculative investors a profit, but can be considered a criminal act. Prosecuting speculative hoarders is rare because the line between prudent preparation for a crisis and attempts to corner the market are blurry, but high-level investors have gone to jail for hoarding commodities in the past. (One well-known example is Yasuo Hamanaka, the “Copper King” of the 1990s)

The more “street-level” hoarding we are seeing in reaction to COVID-19 is not motivated in an attempt to make illegal profits, but in a surrender to fear and panic. This type of hoarding begins with a fear of scarcity and creates the scarcity that was feared. Hoarders today can look at empty shelves of toilet paper or hand sanitizer and say, “See? I was right to hoard!” It’s a self-fulfilling, self- justifying mania and it has consequences.

Medical supplies such as masks, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer being out of stock across the United States and manufacturers being unable to get more goods to market is causing a very real crisis for medical workers and their patients. In response, some governments are seeking to criminalize hoarding of medical supplies and other goods necessary to slow the advance of the virus.

Hoarding, whether criminal or not, is morally wrong because it withholds necessary goods from those who need them and causes panic and suffering for others. Just because hoarders take items from a store shelf, doesn’t mean that they aren’t also taking them from the hands of the elderly, those with health concerns, and those without the financial margin to “stock up.”  In this way, hoarding is similar to stealing, which Paul addresses in Ephesians 4.28. 

Hoarding is a natural response to fear. Being united to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are not to give in to our natural responses, but instead to respond supernaturally. We can respond to fear, not in fear.

What is the opposite of hoarding? What is the opposite of panic and fear? What should the church be known for instead? 

Paul advised doing “something useful” and sharing “with those in need.” 

May we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be known in this time of crisis as people of peace rather than panic, as people of hope rather than fear, as people who give to others rather than take from them, and as people willing to suffer that others may be comforted.

May the message of the gospel not be compromised by our acting as if God is not trustworthy, is not loving, and is not concerned with us.
Instead, may the manifold goodness of God be made known to the world through the deeds of our hands and the words of our mouths.
May we willingly limit and give up our freedoms for the good of others, as Christ gave up and limited himself for our good.
May our hearts always be open to others, even if the doors of our homes and sanctuaries must remain closed.
May we store up treasures in Heaven rather than goods on a shelf.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us saying, “Who, then, is the wise and trustworthy servant whom the master placed over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant if the master’s arrival finds him doing exactly that. In truth I tell you, he will put him in charge of everything he owns. But if the servant is dishonest and says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time,’ and sets about beating his fellow servants and eating and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” — Matthew 24.45-51

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 11 (Listen 3:41) 
Ephesians 4 (Listen -3:58)

Read more about Mind Your Manners
We want our world to work on our terms and provide for our needs. We’re selfish creatures.

Read more about Peace in Crisis
Acting with prudent caution, we can fearlessly engage to aid our cities and communities, loving and serving with abandon.

Fasting from the Feast

Scripture Focus: Ephesians 3.10-12
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Scripture: Luke 14.17-18
At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.” But they all alike began to make excuses.

*As we enter the unintended fast of social distancing and canceling of many events and pastimes, may we make more time for drawing close to God in prayer and God’s Word.

Reflection: Fasting from the Feast
By John Tillman

We already know how to fast. We have simply been fasting from the wrong things.

Our culture has steadily, for decades, been encouraging us to abstain from spiritual disciplines in favor of activities that we are led to believe are more profitable.

Our culture tells us that rather than read scripture in the mornings, we must pound through more emails. Productivity trumps biblical literacy.

We are told rather than praying at noon, we should skip lunch to work at our desk or take lunch with a valuable business contact. Productivity and self-promotion trumps prayerfulness and relational spirituality.

Rather than living simply and giving extravagantly, we reverse the equation, making our giving a simple percentage that satisfies a legalistic requirement or gains a tax benefit. Moral satisfaction trumps active compassion.

Rather than draw away from the world to worship in community with other believers, we draw away from others to worship with our headphones in—shutting the world out via podcast or streaming music and worship services.

When we have had just enough of God to make us feel more emotionally healthy and morally superior, we wish to move on to productivity, profit, and success. (All with the implied blessing of God of course.)

“Many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted him to do, and we should be obliged if he would now leave us alone.” — C.S. Lewis

We’ve pushed our chairs back from the banquet table of God’s Word and placed our hand over our glass to prevent being refilled with the wine of his Holy Spirit.

God invites us to the feast of the kingdom. But many are fasting from God’s feast in order to binge on the benefits we can wring from the world.

May we return to the table and to the fellowship of believers with gusto, pushing aside distractions and false supplements that aren’t real spiritual food. As the voice of Christ cries through the prophet, Isaiah, “Why spend money on what is not bread?

Spiritual disciplines of daily Bible reading, prayer, and meditation are not the spices and subtle flavorings of life—they are the main course. Everything else is sprinkles of garnish.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me. — Psalm 31.3

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 10 (Listen – 3:34) 
Ephesians 3 (Listen – 2:41)

Read more about Fasting is for All
May we fill our unexpected margin not merely with more streaming entertainment, but with a more serious approach and commitment to prayer.

Read more about Fasting as Freedom
Fasting is cutting off the weights our broken world hangs on our balloon so that we remember to rise, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Fasting is for All

Scripture Focus: Galatians 6.8
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

From John
: This post from 2018 is worth repeating even when we already feel like we are fasting from everything. Even in our new crisis, when as Andy Crouch quipped on Twitter, we are all giving up a lot more for Lent than we intended, we can turn unchosen isolation and unchosen cancellations into willing sacrifices. As my own pastor, J.R. Vassar has been encouraging our church, may we use well the “margin” cancellations and losses of social obligations bring to us. May we fill our unexpected margin not merely with more streaming entertainment, but with a more serious approach and commitment to prayer.

Reflection: Fasting is for All

By John Tillman

We sometimes treat fasting like a spiritual version of Mixed Martial Arts—only the strongest should attempt it. But fasting can and should be experienced in some way by believers of all maturity levels.

How do we expect young believers (or new believers) to mature at all if we deter them from learning and practicing one of the major disciplines of our faith?

No matter our age or maturity level, we may begin in fasting as we would begin any new practice. With small, achievable steps.

“As with all the Disciplines, a progression should be observed; it is wise to learn to walk well before we try to run.” — Richard Foster

Fasting may be the most important spiritual discipline for the church to focus on in the next decade. In an instant gratification culture, where we often find ourselves angry when a web page doesn’t load instantly or when a streaming video lags for even a few seconds, we need both a reality check and a spirituality check.

We desperately need to pursue spiritual focus amidst notifications and distractions. We desperately need to cultivate longings for God that won’t surface until we strip away the spirit-numbing stimulants of modern life.

“Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them.” — Richard Foster

Fasting from food is only the beginning of what, for many of us, may be a spiritual quest for stillness, mindfulness, and disconnection from the noise and haste of digital faux-life so that we can connect to true life in Christ.

May we explore fasting beyond fasting from food. May we explore the call of God to withdraw and abstain for a time from anything in our lives that creates false dependency, false assurances of competency, and false feelings of necessity.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading

Then, speaking to all, he said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.” — Luke 9.23

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 7 (Listen -2:21) 
Galatians 6 (Listen -2:18)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 8 (Listen -3:26), Ephesians 1 (Listen -3:10)
Proverbs 9 (Listen -1:50), Ephesians 2 (Listen -3:04)

Read more from Spending our Way to Asceticism
May our pangs of emptiness lead us to make more room in our hearts and lives for the Holy Spirit and for the community of his Holy Church.

Read more about Calloused Hands and Softened Hearts
There is suffering coming to our lives.
There is death coming to our lives.
There is destruction on its way.
We may still be encouraged.

Choose to Hope in the Cross

Scripture Focus: Galatians 5.5-6
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Luke 23.42
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

From John: The very thing the disciples despaired at, became the source of hope amidst any despair—the cross. In this time when many are despairing, our source of hope is still the cross. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear, that hope is hidden in the despair of the cross. 

Reflection: Choose to Hope in the Cross
By Matt Tullos

Hope: When we look toward the constructs of eternity and find our true selves apart from our feeble flesh.

The two thieves represent two choices. One thief demands proof. The other pleads for hope. One looks to escape and the other looks to eternity. These choices stand as constant reminders that the cross of Christ demands a response.

Hope is personal. Very personal. Whether through worship, adversity, desperation or pain, we collide into the reality that our only hope is Jesus.

We can’t hope eternally in friends. Friends will fail us.

We can’t hope in institutions. Institutions over the course of eternity will evaporate like the ephemeral mist of the morning dew.

We can’t hope in hidden treasures. All treasures, short of grace, are water through our fingers.
We can’t hope in flowery platitudes because there will be a day when they will all wilt upon the parched, unforgiving soil of our brokenness.

Our hope is in the One who suffers next to us and says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” This glimpse of the cross reflects the absolute power of grace to snatch anyone from the jaws of destruction.

Was there anything the thief could do? Absolutely nothing. He couldn’t start a small group, feed the poor, go to the synagogue or study the scriptures. He found himself at the end of his life and the only thing he could do was to confess his sin and cry out to Jesus.

“Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man.”
— Victor Hugo


Hope was born on the cross.
Because hope was born we don’t have to be ashamed because he bore our shame.
Because hope was born we don’t have to constantly obsess about whether we could be good enough because He is our righteousness.
Because hope was born we are free.
Because hope was born we have purpose.
Because hope was born we are going to be okay.
And that’s worth celebrating!

Celebrate this scene of the darkest day! Grace rules even when we have no more time. Grace ruled the day then and now.

Have you ever felt like God has forgotten you?
What do you hope God will restore in your family, your heart, your church or your life?
Where is your hope waning?

*From a series Matt Tullos wrote called 39 Words. A few of these posts are available in audio form via Soundcloud. — John

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Come to me speedily, O God. You are my helper and my deliverer, Lord, do not tarry. — Psalm 70.5-6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 6 (Listen -3:22) 
Galatians 5 (Listen -3:22)

Read more about Crucified, By Nature
Christ crucified is more than a means of salvation. It affects every aspect of the Christian life.

Read more about Peace in Crisis
Whatever cross we find ourselves pinned to, if we turn our heads to look, we will see Christ beside us, and whatever the outcome of our suffering, we will find his arms embracing us.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/peace-in-crisis/

Peace in Crisis

Scripture Focus: Galatians 4:13-14
As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

Psalm 91.5-6
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

2 Corinthians 1.3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

Reflection: Peace in Crisis
By John Tillman

*Today, before moving on to return to writings devoted to our reading plan tomorrow, we will spend one more day exploring our responsibilities as a faith community during a crisis and the promises that we have in Christ. We don’t typically address current events. For an explanation of why, see the intro to yesterday’s post.

Yesterday we looked at the stark challenge that the Church’s actions during pandemics gives to us and questioned whether we are living up to that challenge. Today, we focus on the comfort and peace that we have from God in disturbing and difficult times. This divine comfort, this inexplicable peace, (Philippians 4.4-7) was the fuel that empowered the Church in its ministry to crisis victims in the past and it can fuel our outreach as well.

We can be assured, brothers and sisters, that our God is a trustworthy and true God. He is working in us and through us, and is with us in suffering, illness, or struggle. (Romans 8.18, 28, 31-38) There is no hardship that we can bear that Christ has not borne before us and will not be with us through. (Romans 5.1-8; 2 Corinthians 1.3-6; Philippians 3:8-11; Colossians 1.24) Christ suffered on the cross with the repentant thief, and that day brought him into paradise. Whatever cross we find ourselves pinned to, if we turn our heads to look, we will see Christ beside us, and whatever the outcome of our suffering, we will find his arms embracing us.

Acting with prudent caution, we can fearlessly engage to aid our cities and communities, loving and serving with abandon. Fear of pestilence or plague is not a quality of God’s people (Psalm 91.3-7) but selflessly serving those who are sick or dying is. 

Are we in danger? Of course. How is that different than any other day? Today, the only difference is that we are aware of our fragile state of mortality. May we learn to better trust God in this knowledge. With the false sense of security stripped away, we can see if our foundation of faith is truly built on Christ or if it is built on the protections of wealth, the conceit of invulnerability, and our trust in power.

We can, without hesitation or questioning, entrust our spirits to God, just as Christ did on the cross. To be absent from our bodies is to be present with our Lord, and to be present in our bodies is to be united in Christ’s body on Earth, the Church. Therefore we are, now and forever, with the Lord, no matter the outcome of any illness or suffering that we may ever face. (2 Corinthians 5.1-10)

So, be confident and live by faith, making it your goal to please Christ and to remain united with him and at peace in suffering, service, and in showing his love to our world.

If you are in Christ, brothers and sisters, we are one in him. He is with you. Be at peace. Serve with love. Fear not. (Matthew 28,20)

*Tomorrow we hear from Matt Tullos about the hope we have in the cross.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you. — Psalm 71.5-6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 5 (Listen -2:08) 
Galatians 4 (Listen -4:13)

Read more about The Church’s Historical Response to Plague
The historic church has left us a great example and testimony based on sound application of the scriptures. Are we following it?

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/the-churchs-historical-response-to-plague/

Read more about The Purchase Price of Peace
Jesus came out of the tomb carrying the gift we glimpse in the manger—peace. 
“Peace I leave with you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.