“When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?" "Twelve," they said. Mark 8:19 NLT
Is poverty a curse that makes men mad?
Here’s a true story, as told me by a second hand witness. Two Nigerians ordered oversized plates of food they didn’t need from an expensive restaurant somewhere in Germany. The waiters thought this was unusual amounts of food but what the heck, if they were this hungry. Surprises awaited them.
Moments later, maybe to impress the white man, the men took just a few nibbles from their plates, shoved the food away and motioned the waiter for their bill.
“You have to finish the food, Sirs,” the bewildered waiter politely told them.
“No, we’re okay, no problem,” they answered, laughing.
“But you have to eat the food, you cannot throw this amount of food away” insisted the restaurateur.
The two men looked each other in the face, muttering, in Warri accent, “Shooooow?”
“Look” they said with rising temper, “the money is ours, not yours! We’re paying you for the food! What’s your problem?”
“We understand, Sirs,” said the restaurateur calmly, “But when you throw this food away, it is a spite on our people and our economy.
“You see, someone grew the tomatoes and vegetables, someone raised the cow and the fish, someone manufactured the oils and the other dozen ingredients, someone transported the ingredients to the grocery, someone cut the veggies, prepared the meal, served them, someone went to school to learn the best cooking there is, someone taught them, interviewed, employed them.
“You see, Sirs … it took the labor of love, knowledge and skills of thousands of our German people to serve you those two plates of food. It’s not about your money, it’s about the thousands of people who made it possible. It is a sin against our economy.”
••• While all this was going, one of the waiters had already called the police. Story short, they were forced to go with the take-away pack of the food they wanted thrown into the dustbin.
Listen, friends! To load up your plate from a buffet, and leave half of it uneaten is not a sign of big-manism. It’s a clinical symptom of poverty. Of mental illness.
••• What does poverty have to do with wastefulness? Everything! Some people are poor mostly because they are wasteful! The poor waste time, waste ideas, waste opportunities, waste talent, waste relationships, waste money!
••• Again, I read a story from my social feed the other day. One post-NYSC girl went to this other girl to beg for N50,000 to start a business. Meanwhile, she had N75,000 made up hair on her head! Of course the wiser one asked her, girl-to-girl, “Sister, your hair is N75k, how come you didn’t use the money to start your business?”
We do the same thing as a country. Senator Ben Bruce narrated how our government used N250,000,000.00 ($500,000) to build a gatehouse for the Vice President’s residence. I have been to the high and low places in America and the UK. There’s no place you’ll see a gatehouse built with $500,000. And yet, we want those countries to give us a loan - to build more gatehouses? Is poverty a curse?
••• That's why Nelson Mandela said, “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.” We can never cure poverty by giving the poor handouts, and giving graduates N5,000 a month. We must pull down the demonic “Nigerian system” that makes this place “a land that swallows its inhabitants.”
Wastefulness is immoral. God abhors the wasteful. We are stewards of God’s resources. He did not appoint us to waste His resources.
If you are wasteful, you are immoral. God abhors immorality.
Think about it for a moment. According to the United Nations, four people die of hunger every second! Aren’t you immoral when you leave uneaten food on your plate to be thrown away?
••• One in nine Indians, mostly children, will go to bed hungry today. India is 1.3 billion people - do the math. In our own back yard, according to the 2015 World Hunger Report, nearly 13 million Nigerians will go to bed hungry tonight. Today, if you count 10 people on the street, 2 or 3 likely haven’t had breakfast.
So, aren’t you immoral when your kitchen sink is half-filled with wasted breakfast cereals, milk, pap and fried eggs you and your obese children didn’t finish up? What you flush down your drains everyday could literally save dozens of lives from death by starvation.
••• In my house, you can eat as much as you want but don’t leave anything on the plate. My children learnt early that they’d better not throw food away. I recall the day I insisted that one of them eat the food he had thrown away from the dustbin!
••• Walter Chalmers Smith, Scottish minister, (1824-1908), God bless his resting soul, left us with the classic hymn, ‘Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise.’ This hymn always enriches my quiet times and meditations. The hymn is replete with lines that attempt to capture our Unknowable. If you struggle with knowing God, as I do, a regular dosage of this hymn is refreshing.
The second verse begins with:
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting …
••• The God of the Universe does not want. Yet, He does not waste! He owns everything, but He wastes nothing. After He fed the 5,000, He instructed that the leftovers be picked up and accounted for. Not just for camp sanitation. I believe He gave the poor takeaway packs. Wow! He says that not one bird falls from the sky without His notice! Nor wanting, nor wasting!
••• I know a few billionaires and many millionaires, in dollars. I’m not talking about our political thieves; I mean real entrepreneurs. There are quite a few shocking truths about people who have created wealth through sheer entrepreneurial genius, persistence and hard work. One is their spiritual sensitivity. I have consulted for a billionaire who would not leave his house until he has prayed and praised God for at least 4 - 5 hours daily. Yes, daily!
The most shocking truth about these billionaires, perhaps, is their thriftiness. They never want but they don't waste. Like God Himself. They will not give you one cent if you do not convince them about the value you will create from it. Everything must be accounted for. They keep receipts. They weigh their financial decisions meticulously.
••• Are you wasteful? For instance, do you have clothes in your wardrobe that you have not worn in 12 months? I heard a woman talk about clothes she has not worn in 3 - 4 years! I know folks who have so many cars that one hardly would clock 20,000km in 5years!
Or you’re a single guy, just graduated and got a job in the city. What did you rent a 3-bedroom flat for? Three bedrooms? And what are you doing inside a gas-guzzling SUV? Are you certain you can afford it now?
Do you leave the lights in your room on even when no one is there? That NEPA slams their crazy "estimated bill" on you is not an excuse for waste.
Foolish girl! You earn 50k a month but you have an 80k phone and you just ordered an aso-ebi of N100k! Why won't you deserve poverty?
You keep looking for more money. Is it possible that the Shepherd of Psalm 23 has already provided but your wastefulness blinds you?
Do you know how much cash flow you can free up in your life if you adjusted your lifestyle of wastefulness? No man ever escaped poverty who didn’t learn the wisdom of thrift.
••• Do you ask God for long life? Good. How do you use your 24 daily hours? Can you account for the past 365 days? If you haven’t used 24 hours productively, why should He give you 24 years?
May God open our eyes to see the damage that our wastefulness inflicts on our destinies… and may we have the wisdom and humility to become like God - nor wanting, nor wasting.
*Contributed by Ogbo Awoke Ogbo, a Motivational Speaker, from Lagos, as part of Incisive Meditation series.... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology