Estelle had a very bad habit – whenever visitors came to her home, after exchanging greetings with them, she would begin to complain: the economy was very bad, things were really expensive and one needed to be very careful about offering food or beverages to guests. When the economy wasn’t as bad one could easily and joyfully feed visitors. But now with the cost of foodstuff and everything else skyrocketing, wining and dining visitors should be done sparingly and with great wisdom. After spending minutes bellyaching, Estelle would ask her visitors, ‘What can I offer you?’ If you were visiting Estelle’s home and she treated you that way, what would be your response? For Robin, a relative of Estelle’s, that kind of behavior was totally disgusting. Now, whenever Robin and her husband, Johan, wanted to visit Estelle’s family they preferred to go directly from church on Sunday because their church was relatively close to Estelle’s home. Naturally, they were hungry by the time they left church on Sunday afternoon and so would really love to have a nice meal. But Robin couldn’t continue putting up with the ‘lecture’ Estelle gave before offering food to her visitors. Johan and Robin then devised a way of visiting Estelle and her family without trying to correct Estelle, who was a much older person, and without eating her food which, as far as they were concerned, was laced with insolence. The newly-married couple decided that any Sunday they were going to visit Estelle and her family from church, they would branch at a restaurant and eat to their satisfaction before proceeding to Estelle’s house. So whenever Johan and Robin showed up at Estelle’s house and the latter reeled out her usual complaints and then asked, ‘what can I offer you?’ the reply was always, ‘Nothing ma’am. We are fine, thank you’. Robin would not even accept a cup of water just in case that would increase their hosts’ water bill.
The choice Robin and Johan made was clearly a very smart one that helped them maintain their dignity and not eat food that was offered to them after a speech they considered insulting. It also helped to ensure that they didn’t end up quarreling with their relative or refusing to go to her house. They showed that even though they visited Estelle’s house on some Sunday afternoons after spending hours in church, they were not so hungry as to allow themselves to be treated like beggars.
Now, there are many people who would devise such intelligent ways to deal with situations that if not properly handled could create tension between them and their relatives, friends, neighbors or co-workers. They would also look for ways to ensure that they don’t give anyone a reason or an opportunity to embarrass or ridicule them unnecessarily. This sometimes involves walking away from something really appealing/enticing. They would rather make that sacrifice than expose themselves to insults, just like Johan and Robin who preferred to spend extra money buying food rather than eat something that was obviously being offered with much reluctance.
How nice it would be if we all as Christians could depend on the Holy Spirit to supply us with grace, power, wisdom and everything else we need to always resist the temptation to ‘satisfy our hunger’ in a way that could bring us reproach, shame and embarrassment in eternity. For instance, all humans are hungry for prosperity but no Christian should be hungry enough to sell his/her home in heaven to be rich here on earth. Unfortunately many Christians are doing just that. There are Christians who would tell lies in order to get or retain a job. Some Christian contractors would pocket most of the money earmarked for the execution of projects and then do shoddy jobs with substandard materials, not caring that their actions may later backfire and hurt some innocent people. There are even born again Christians who receive bribes before they carry out assignments for which they are employed. Some of them argue that they are not well paid and so have to look for other means of making extra money to take care of their families. They fail to realize that there is no excuse for ungodliness in the sight of our holy God.
What some Christians try to satisfy at any cost is the hunger for respect and honor from fellow human beings. Many pastors, for example, neglect life-changing messages the Holy Spirit gives them and preach what they believe will keep people coming to their churches and also attract new members. That way, they can continue to be referred to and respected as ‘big pastors with big congregations’. There are also pastors who, in a bid to retain rich church members and their fat financial support, give them titles and responsibilities which God has not called or equipped them to handle.
Christians who are ready to do just about anything to satisfy a hunger are consciously or unconsciously towing the line of Esau. Genesis 25:29-34, “Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ (That is why he was also called Edom). Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright’ ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright” (NIV). Consider the warning given to us in Hebrews 12:16-17, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears” (NLT).
Don’t be hungry for anything in this world to the extent of casting away the glory and honor that God has beautified you with. If, unlike in Johan and Robin’s case, you just cannot find any way to meet a particular need without the risk of grieving the Holy Spirit, ask for grace to put up with the situation while keeping your hands unsoiled. God will eventually come through for you.