only one cow
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Only One Cow
Over 12 years a group of American missionaries established a number of ministries including church plants, a school and feeding programs and they discipled a few young men who today lead various churches and ministries.
One participant in this was a shy young man named Miltador. Miltador showed a heart to obey even the most radical instructions of the Bible. Like most Haitians, Miltador lived in poverty. He did have one possession that many Haitians did not. Miltador owned a cow--a feat that may not sound all that impressive to us, but one that would give Miltador's family an opportunity for ongoing nourishment from the cow's milk and ongoing income breeding the cow and selling its calves.
Miltador came into possession of the cow after several years of work. A local farmer hired Miltador, then just a boy, to take care of a calf. Each morning and evening Miltador retrieved the calf from the neighboring farm, found a place for it to graze, then returned it to its home. Miltador cared for the calf, with no pay, until it had grown and could be bred. When the farmer finally bred the cow, the farmer gave Miltador a calf--his only payment for years of work.
As this discipleship group, including Miltador, studied through the NT, they came upon 1 John 3:16-18. Paul, the man who led the study, struggled with whether to teach the passage. American Christians need this message; we typically think of Haitians as the ones who need help. Because the passage was in the Bible and because even the poor need to recognize the need to help others, he taught this passage.
The next week, when Miltador arrived at discipleship group meeting, Paul casually asked about his cow--was it healthy? Miltador hung his head, "I don't have the cow anymore," he confessed.
"What a tragedy? What happened to the cow?" asked Paul.
"My brother has been sick and needed to see a doctor," explained Miltador. "He had no money to pay a doctor. Last week you told us that if we have a material possession, and see our brother in need, but don't help--how could the love of God be in us? So, I sold the cow and gave the money to my brother so he could see the doctor."
What an example of how individual Christians are to take care of physical needs. How often does the American church miss the depth of community to which God calls us!
Too often we diminish the teachings of Jesus and the Bible by calling them figurative. We don’t want to take them literally because that would require literal obedience and we just know God wouldn’t crowd our comfort zones that much.
In 1 John 3:11-24 we are told to love one another. We are told that this love is often expressed by giving sacrificially. In fact, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins is given as an example of what true love is. Miltador gave us an example of what it means to take God and his Word seriously. We don’t know how God took care of this young man and his family for making this sacrifice, but honestly, Miltador didn’t care. He only wanted to obey God’s Word. Somehow, I think what this young man did, was the ultimate obedience to this command.
How do you know that you love someone fully? Jesus showed us by his sacrifice on the cross.
Are you paying attention? Follow Him.
This Sunday, we will look at another way we grow by following The Jesus Difference in part 7 of our series, “Love One Another” based on 1 John 3:11-24. Together we will learn something about true love as reflected in the life of Jesus Christ. Come share in this wonderful time of worship and listing to the leading of the Holy Spirit.