Surgical Spirit: William Wilberforce and the eggs

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
Our family once had a holiday in Yorkshire. The weather was kind and the scenery stunning:

‘Look at that!’… ‘Wow!’…

At the edge of a small village was an extraordinary house with a sweeping drive and a small sign: Free Range Eggs for Sale. ‘Let’s get some eggs and take a closer look at this place!’
The owner greeted us cordially and asked where we were staying. He sold us a dozen eggs and we chatted about his house and the chapel in the grounds. The gabled mansion turned out to be the ancestral home of that great Christian and anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce and we were speaking with William Wilberforce himself – his great, great, great, great grandson!
It was a memorable encounter and there was a sequel: Those eggs were dodgy. When I hard-boiled them for sandwiches the next day, they were grey and chewy. I thought nothing of it since they tasted OK (Eardleys have strong stomachs).
Then there was a knock at the door. It was William Wilberforce with a box of fresh eggs. ‘Sorry about the mix-up,’ said he, ‘I sold you hard-boiled eggs! My wife had cooked them for a fete display and put them in the fridge unlabelled.’
It struck me that William senior would have approved of his descendant seeking out strangers on a remote farm (via a 4-mile diversion since the road had been dug up) to compensate them for a few overcooked eggs. And it was a challenge to me: am I honest in small things? How about when no-one is looking?
Jesus told a very strange parable in Luke 16, about a shrewd manager losing his job and ensuring he still had friends by striking off some of their debts. We are not to cling to worldly wealth but to use it to benefit others and win friends in the kingdom of God. Jesus underlines that if we are unreliable in small responsibilities we shall not be faithful with true spiritual riches, and will not be trusted with them. Verse 13 is famous:
“No servant can serve two masters...You cannot serve both God and money.”
Let us honestly examine ourselves and pray for the Spirit’s help to be trustworthy, even in small things. Maybe we could also pray for the descendants of famous Christians, that God will also open their eyes to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Ruth Eardley is a GP and member of Affinity partner Little Hill Church, Leicester. She writes a regular piece for her church entitled 'Surgical Spirit'. We have been given permission to reproduce some of them. This is one of her latest contributions.

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