Last Sabbath at services, our congregation discussed current events and the state of the nation. One of the ladies that we don’t get to see often brought and read this poem. I think it sums up human nature and our tendency to let our pettiness and pride rule what we do.

The Cold Within (by James Patrick Kinney or J.W. Cashes, Sr.

Six men trapped by happenstance
In dark and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back,
For on the faces around the fire
He noticed one was black.
The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich one just sat back and thought
Of all the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.
These are all ditches that we can easily fall into. We have to remember to have both judgement and mercy just as God does. No human is perfect. We can only do our best to help those who need it as we are able. Someone else not doing their best is no excuse to hold our stick back. Maybe our move is the first to break a cycle and be a good example for others to follow. I think we can all benefit from adding to our prayers that we don’t fall into one of these ditches.
To wrap up this thought, I like how it is stated in Proverbs 30:8-9. “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain (or corrupt Your name).”

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