Keith Wishum: Asking for too much

Published 10:32 am Monday, March 5, 2018

A customer entered a small shop and browsed the fresh fruit. “Give me two pounds of oranges and wrap every orange up in a separate piece of paper, please,” she said to the clerk. He did as she asked.
“And three pounds of cherries, and wrap up every one in a separate piece of paper, too.” He did.
“And what is that there,” the lady asked, pointing to a basket in the corner. “Raisins,” said the clerk. “But,” he quickly added, “they are not for sale!”
Can you blame the salesperson? The customer asked for too much. Consequently, she got nothing — none of the raisins anyway.
I wonder how much I miss when I ask for too much. How often does someone decide not to share an idea with me because I’ve been too critical of suggestions in the past? Do I miss potentially rewarding relationships because I ask too much of people, criticizing them when they fail so that they’re afraid to be themselves with me? Might my kids hesitate to show me their work that would make me proud because they’ve been stung before when I pointed out their mistakes?
Some of us ask a lot of others. And we point it out when they don’t deliver. In contrast, there is an interesting description of God in the first chapter of James. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God” (1:5). But, notice what is added, “who gives generously to all without finding fault.”
“Without finding fault.” He certainly could, of course. He’s perfect and we’ve all got California-size faults. It wouldn’t be hard for him to find them.
The time would be right for pointing out faults, too. Someone asking for wisdom has very likely just demonstrated a shortage of it. Yet, God gives the needed wisdom with no “I told you so,” or “If you had asked me first, you wouldn’t be in this mess.”
I want to be more like that. I want to be quick to help, but slow to criticize someone for needing help, anxious to assist someone to become a better person without making him feel bad about not already being a better person. I need to be more like that, but it’s tough. Fault finding is an old, familiar habit. I’m not sure I know how to change.
Hey, maybe I should ask God for wisdom. He’s already said that’s not asking too much.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.