The allegory of the long spoons is a parable that shows the difference between heaven and hell by forcing people to eat with long spoons. It is attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, as well as other sources.

In hell the people are unable to lift food to their mouths, using such unwieldy cutlery, and are starving. In heaven, the diners feed one another across the table and are sated. The story can encourage people to be kind to each other.

The story suggests that people have the opportunity to use what they are given (the long spoons in this allegory) to help nourish each other, but the problem, as Haim points out, lies in how the people treat each other.

Given the same level playing field, one group of people who treat each other well will create a pleasant environment, whereas another group of people, given exactly the same tools to work with, can create unpleasant conditions simply by how they treat each other. (1)

This parable in reality does not truly represent the difference between heaven and hell, however it does represent the difference between the attitude of selfishness and love in serving others. When we remain self-centred we do not fully accomplish our purpose, but instead are depriving ourselves and others, whereas when we focus on serving others, we are blessing others with our resources and gifts and in return will be blessed by God. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4: 10 ESV).

At times people give up on serving others because they feel they are not getting anything back in return. When you serve others do it with an attitude of helping others and expecting nothing back in return, because people may fail to recognise and appreciate your care, they may not even thank you for serving them. However, helping others with an attitude of sincere service toward them and expecting a reward from God who sees and knows all things will keep you steadfast in your love for others without getting frustrated and bitter. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3: 23-24 ESV).

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20: 35 ESV).

Servanthood requires great humility. We all have opportunities to serve others. No one is too dignified, important or great to serve others. In fact, great leaders are also great servants. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 43-45 NIV).

When we focus on serving others, being concerned about their needs and wellbeing, reaching out in love for those who are weak, we are walking in the likeness and the very nature of God. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14 ESV).

Years ago I was looking for a job, and was unsuccessful, so I decided to get my mind off my problems and instead utilise my time volunteering in a charity, helping the poor and the needy in the community. A few months later I got a part time job, but I continued volunteering as it gave me purpose and fulfilment in helping others. Very soon my part time job turned into a full time job and I was no longer able to volunteer. At that time, I realised a very important principle of sowing and reaping, that when you reach out to those in need, God provides for all your needs. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it, will be measured back to you. (Luke 6: 38 ESV)

Every day we need to look for opportunities to serve others. We can serve in our family, in our community, reaching out and helping those in need. If you need encouragement, find someone that’s discouraged and help them out. If you are sick, pray for those that are in a more critical condition than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 4-11 ESV).


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