Bill was a big, awkward, homely guy. He dressed oddly with ill-fitting clothes. There were several fellows
who thought it smart to make fun of him. One day one fellow noticed a small tear in his shirt and gave it a small rip. Another
worker in the factory added his bit, and before long there was quite a ribbon dangling. Bill went on about his work and as
he passed too near a moving belt the shirt strip was sucked into the machinery. In a split second the sleeve and Bill was
Alarms were sounded, switches pulled, and trouble was avoided. The foreman, however, aware of what had happened
earlier summoned the men and related this story:
In my younger days I worked in a small factory. That's when I first met Mike. He was big and witty, was always
making jokes, and playing little pranks. Mike was a leader. Then there was Pete who was a follower. He always went along with
Mike. And then, there was a man named Jake. "He was a little older than the rest of us quiet, harmless, apart. He always ate
his lunch by himself. He wore the same patched trousers for three years straight. He never entered into the games played at
noon, wrestling, horse shoes, and such. He appeared to be indifferent, always sitting quietly alone under a tree instead.
Jake was a natural target for practical jokes. He might find a live frog in his dinner pail, or a dead rodent
in his hat. But he always took it in good humor. Then one Fall when things were slack, Mike took off a few days to go hunting.
Pete went along, of course. And they promised all of us that if they got anything they'd bring us each a piece.
So we were all quite excited when we heard that they'd returned and that Mike had got a really big buck. We
heard more than that. Pete could never keep anything to himself, and it leaked out that they had a real whopper to play on
Jake. Mike had cut up the critter and had made a nice package for each of us. And, for the laugh, for the joke of it, he had
saved the ears, the tail, the hoofs it would be so funny when Jake unwrapped them.
Mike distributed his packages during the noon hour. We each got a nice piece, opened it, and thanked him.
The biggest package of all he saved until last. It was for Jake. Pete was all but bursting; and Mike looked very smug. Like
always, Jake sat by himself; he was on the far side of the big table. Mike pushed the package over to where he could reach
it; and we all sat and waited.
Jake was never one to say much. You might never know that he was around for all the talking he did. In three
years he'd never said a hundred words. So we were all quite astounded with what happened next.
He took the package firmly in his grip and rose to his feet. He smiled broadly at Mike and it was then we
noticed that his eyes were glistening. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down for a moment and then he got control of himself.
"I knew you wouldn't forget me," he said gratefully; I knew you'd come through! You're big and you're playful, but I knew
all along that you had a good heart."
He swallowed again, and then took in the rest of us. "I know I haven't seemed too chummy with you; but I never
meant to be rude. You see, I've got nine kids at home and a wife that's been an invalid bedfast now for four years. She ain't
ever going to get any better. And sometimes when she's real bad off, I have to sit up all night to take care of her. And most
of my wages have had to go for doctors and medicine. The kids do all they can to help out, but at times it's been hard to
keep food in their mouths.
Maybe you think it's funny that I go off by myself to eat my dinner. Well, I guess I've been a little ashamed,
because I don't always have anything between my sandwich. Or like today maybe there's only a raw turnip in my pail. But I
want you to know that this meat really means a lot to me. Maybe more than to anybody here because tonight my kids..." he wiped
the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand..." tonight my kids will have a really..." He tugged at the string.
We'd been watching Jake so intently we hadn't paid much notice to Mike and Pete. But we all noticed them now,
because they both dove at once to try to grab the package. But they were too late. Jake had broken the wrapper and was already
surveying his present. He examined each hoof, each ear, and then he held up the tail. It wiggled limply. It should have been
so funny, but nobody laughed, nobody at all. "But the hardest part was when Jake looked up and said "Thank you" while trying
Silently one by one each man moved forward carrying his package and quietly place it in front of Jake for
they had suddenly realized how little their own gift had really meant to them...until now...
This was where the foreman left the story and the men. He didn't need to say anymore; but it was gratifying
to notice that as each man ate his lunch that day, they shared part with Bill and one fellow even took off his shirt and gave
it to him. When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in
his work, this is a gift of God.
Philippians 4:6 and 7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests
be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ
I can do all things through Christ which stengtheneth me.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Friends, are we guilty of the same actions that Mike and Pete where?
Remember, it is never too late to change the way we treat others.