The Parable of the Carrot by C.H. Spurgeon
Once upon a time in an old kingdom, there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot in his garden. Now this man loved his sovereign, so he came and presented the carrot to the king, saying, “This is the best carrot my garden will ever grow. Receive it as a token of my love.” Now the king discerned his heart of love and devotion and saw that he wanted nothing in return. This moved the king and he then gave the gardener far more land than he currently had for his garden, so the man went home rejoicing.
Now a nobleman at court overheard this conversation and he thought to himself, “if that is the response the lord makes to such a small gift… what will he give in response to a great one?” So the next day he brought the king a fine horse, saying, “This is the best horse my stables will ever grow. Receive it as a token of my love.” But the King discerned the nobleman’s heart, and in response he just received the horse and dismissed the giver. When the king saw the look of confusion on his face, he said, “The gardener’s gift was a gift, indeed, out of love, but you are just trying to make a profit. He gave me the carrot, but you gave yourself the horse”.
Can you figure out what the parable means?
Neuroscientists have long known that people’s changes in attitudes, lifestyles, and habits coincide with the rewiring of their brains. But they haven’t always known the catalyst for the rewiring and change. Recent research has revealed that an important part of how people change is through the process of telling their stories to an empathetic listener.
When a person tells his story and is truly heard and understood, both he and the listener undergo actual changes in their brain circuitry. The one telling his story feels a greater sense of emotional and relational connection with a decreased sense of anxiety about the future and a relief of guilt from the past.
Even the listener’s brain is changed and the result is a greater awareness of and compassion for the suffering of others. As human listeners we can connect with the idea that we have a sense of empathy when we hear someone tell us their story. Empathy is the intellectual and emotional identification or the vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.
If as humans, we can experience empathy for another and have greater compassion toward them as a result, imagine how inviting the empathy, care and compassion that the God-man, Jesus Christ has for you when you tell Him what’s on your heart. Being God and having suffered as a man, Jesus has the highest capacity for compassion for your suffering, stress and temptation. In Jesus rests a visceral mirror of your emotions, frustrations, and anxieties. He feels what you feel when you feel it. He Gets Us! So why not approach Him with what is on your heart today? This is crucial if we want transformation in our lives.
The way it works with those who trust Jesus is that our seemingly inadequate resources are multiplied. This doesn’t mean that we can be stingy and Jesus will make us look generous. It means that when we bring it all under His Leadership and Direction, then He will pour out blessings on us and others like we can’t even imagine. The result of the feeding of the multitudes was that all 5,000 men and their families were was stuffed to the gills and they collected twelve basketfuls of leftover surplus (leftovers are always a sign of the Lord’s blessing). One basketful of filet-o-fish sandwiches for each disciple to take home to feed his family.
With Jesus the insufficient becomes an abundance; the Loaves become a Feast. So we need not hold anything back from Him or others with the fear that we Might Run Out and have nothing left for ourselves. With Jesus, even the givers become receivers. This is the pattern of God’s Grace to those who trust Him. Paul Tripp says this about grace: “Grace is God’s unrelenting commitment to deliver every resource you need to be what you’re supposed to be and do what you’re called to do.” He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
Can we then trust the Lord with our finances? Can we continue even in uncertain financial times to bring the first 10% of our income into the storehouse of the church? “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
Can you imagine Jesus looking you square in the eye saying, “You give them something to eat.” That’s exactly what He commanded the disciples in the story of the Feeding of the Multitudes. When they pooled their resources they found themselves woefully inadequate to meet the needs they were commanded to meet. Jesus knew the loaf and fish count already so why did He tell them to do something He knew they couldn’t do? Well, as always Jesus is attempting to teach us all to trust Him. Here He vividly demonstrates through the disciples’ own situational analysis that they don’t have enough and that their resources alone will never meet the needs of their world.
Jesus asks us each day to meet the needs of our world and we respond by collecting our personal resources (usually what we have to spare) which usually results in our declaration that “We don’t have enough.” But Jesus doesn’t want us to stop there. That’s step #1, admit you are powerless over your problems, realize that our needs and the needs around us are beyond our resources and we need help. Until we say I NEED HELP, we are in a position of deception and vulnerability. As long as we are self-sufficient and self-sustaining and we can meet our own needs and that of a few others we live in a delusional field of self-deception and vulnerability.
So today, who is He asking you to feed that will cost you? What is he asking you to do that you don’t feel you have the resources, the gifts, the money, the courage, or the energy?