How do you use your chopsticks? Do you use them to love your neighbour? Tandy uses a story from Korea to drive home a spiritual truth.
Tandy Balson is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer and observer of life. She is also a also a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Contact us if you are a truth seeker and need some answers.
How Do You Use Your Chopsticks?
“Once upon a time,” says a story that comes from Korea, “a man set out to find a place where, he’d been told, lived the happiest people in the world.” When he came to the gates of a large city, he was met by a guide who took him to a street where stood a house bearing the name “The House of Happiness.”
Just before they knocked at the door the guide asked if the man would like to first visit a house on the opposite side of the street. They went across. This house had a sign over the doorway which said, “The House of Sorrow.” Inside there was a large room, with a table running down the middle, loaded with food of every description. Around the table sat some very sad, hungry-looking people.
“Can’t they eat?” the man asked.
“Oh yes,” replied his guide, “But our custom forbids that anyone should pick up food with his hands, so everyone who arrives is given a pair of chopsticks. Even then it is not easy, for, as you can see, these chopsticks are five feet long. In fact, the people you see here are hungry and sad because they are not able to get the food to their mouths with such long, large chopsticks.”
The House of Happiness
The man and his guide went away, crossed the road, and entered the other house – “The House of Happiness.” Inside was a similar room, with a table down the center, laden with food. The people sitting around it looked well fed and happy. The man noticed that they, too, had 5 foot long chopsticks.
“How is it,” he asked the guide, “that these people have managed to feed themselves?”
The guide explained. “These people are well fed because they use their own chopsticks to feed their neighbour. So each feed the other, and they are all satisfied.”
This story is from a speech that my mother gave in 1980. Its message still resounds with me today. So much so, that I felt the need to pass it on.
Love Your Neighbour
Although the idea of using what we have to benefit others is thousands of years old, the visual in this story makes it crystal clear. In the book of Matthew, Jesus told us that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbour as ourselves. This message was repeated in Luke 6:31 when Jesus said, “Do for other people everything you want them to do for you.”
Serving others is communicated many times in the New Testament. In Ephesians 2:10, I read, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”
Part of serving others is not just doing things; it is also sharing what we have. God is pleased when we do so. In Hebrews 13:16 it says, “Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.”
What I have learned is that by helping others I help myself as well. When I’m busy helping others with the challenges they face, I don’t have as much time to dwell on the negative things in my own life. Therefore, what I face no longer seems so overwhelming.
Give Words of Praise and Encouragement
One good way to use our chopsticks is to give words of praise and encouragement. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” I know how much I appreciate positive words spoken to me and strive to give this gift to those I come in contact with. It only takes a moment and the ripple effect of this positivity can make a difference in more lives than I am aware of.
Thinking back to the chopsticks, can you picture the scene at the table when the first person decided to try to put food in someone else’s mouth? Co-operation between the giver and receiver would have been necessary. I would imagine it could have been frustrating as they were learning the knack of this. Or, there could have been much laughter as they tried to figure it out. A sense of humour is an essential ingredient of a positive life.
New challenges are difficult. If I look at them with exasperation, thinking I’ll never master the task, there is a good chance that will be the case. If, on the other hand, I don’t see failure but steps to get me closer to achieving my goal, I will keep a positive mindset. I’m not really making mistakes; I’m just learning what not to do!
There are many lasting lessons for me in this simple story of the chopsticks. An important one is that I will reap what I sow. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God’s blessings will receive a harvest of God’s blessings in return.”
I know what I have to do, but I’m curious, how do you use your gifts to serve others? Send me a note through my website and tell me, “How do you use your chopsticks?
If you have enjoyed reading this post and wish to send us a comment or share a prayer request, please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know.
Images courtesy of:
Chopsticks & Sushi – Qimono
Korea – sojoonnam
Muslim Women – Makunin
Encourage – MorningbirdPhoto