Jacksonville Presbyterian ChurchMy friend Don Custis, shared an ancient story with me that was told centuries ago by the Jewish rabbis.

There was once a man who had two sons. He was a successful farmer, and when he died, he left his lands to his two sons. Over the course of time, one of the sons married a young woman and raised a family of six children. The other son remained single. The two young men farmed the land together, and everything they harvested, they divided equally. The grain was placed in two barns, one for each brother.

They grew older. The land was good, and the weather kind. They prospered, and both began to plan for their old age. One night, while going over his accounts, the unmarried brother began thinking to himself, “My brother has seven mouths to feed, and I am all alone. He will need a bigger share of the crops than I need. But he will never agree to accept a bigger share of the harvest.” He thought and thought, and finally decided what to do.

Late one night, long after his brother had fallen asleep, the unmarried brother got out of bed, walked to the barn, and began carrying sacks of grain to his brother’s barn.

Meanwhile the married brother was planning ahead as well. He said to himself, “My brother and I are getting older. But I have been blessed with a wife and six children to take care of me when I am old. My brother has no one. He will need more than his share to store up against old age. But he will never agree to accept a larger share of the harvest.”

And so, this brother too got up in the dead of night while his brother was asleep and went out to the barn and began carrying sacks of grain to his brother’s barn. This went on for several nights, each brother removing some of his own grain to his brother’s barn.

Then one night, when the moon was full, the brothers met in the field midway between the two barns. And when they saw each other and realized what the other brother had been doing, they began to weep, dropped their sacks of grain, and embraced.

The rabbis tell us that just then clouds drifted across the face of the shining moon, and it began to rain. Do you know what it was? It was the tears of God, weeping for joy, because two of his children had finally – finally – gotten the point.

Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “Let each of you look not to your own interest, but to the interest of others. In your relationships with others have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had.” What a beautiful, beautiful world it would be, if we could follow this imperative more often.

Let us pray… Lord God, teach us to live as Jesus lived – looking not to our own interests but to the interests of others. In dying to ourselves, our pride,… may we find new and abundant life! Open our hearts that this might be not just an idea – but a way of life.