Some years ago I served as a naval aviator aboard a large aircraft carrier, the USS Philippine Sea. The carrier was operating off the coast of Korea and would stay out at sea for about thirty days at a time.
Supplies were brought to us by other ships. These cargo vessels would pull up alongside our carrier and, while both ships were underway, would send food, mail, repair parts, and other supplies over to us by cables. Sometimes the containers broke open, and the contents would spill out onto the hangar deck of the aircraft carrier.
One day I walked past an area where fresh fruit was being unloaded. A carton of oranges had been slightly damaged, and a big beautiful orange fell out and rolled right across the deck to me. I picked it up and continued on my way down to the pilot’s ready room, where a number of my squadron mates were sitting around reading their mail that had just come aboard from the supply ship.
As I entered the room, all of my friends saw the orange. Fresh fruit was a very scarce item aboard ship, and I could tell that their mouths were watering for a taste of my fresh juicy orange. Pretending that I did not notice them, I peeled the orange, broke it in half, and then counted the sections. There were just enough orange sections to give each of them two, and so I divided the orange equally among my six friends, who expressed their gratitude.
A short time later someone came in the door and shouted, “Hey, a whole case of oranges has been dropped on the hangar deck, and oranges are all over the floor!” Out my friends ran.
Soon they returned, each proudly carrying an orange. They all peeled their oranges, and to my great surprise, each one gave me four sections in return for the two sections I had given him. I actually ended up with enough sections to make two whole oranges after they had all shared with me.
As I thanked them I had an opportunity to learn a very plain gospel principle.
I did not share my orange with the thought of receiving a reward. But it is never possible for us to do something nice or generous for someone else without being rewarded somehow for what we have done. The Bible tells us, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1). Sometimes we do not have to wait “many days”—we are rewarded immediately.
The Lord said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). The Lord loves all of us, and He delights to see His children showing love and kindness and tenderness to each other. “Oh, there’s One who smiles on high, when there’s love at home” (Hymn no. 169).