The title of today’s message is “The Little Red Hen.” As I read this story to you, I want you to think about the
characters and the attitudes they display and determine if you have ever had (or still have) any of those same attitudes.
I first read this story as a child but what you will hear me say today is my own version of the story.
I chose to share this particular version because I think it will help us better identify with one of the characters or possibly all of them. So please pay close attention as I read this story.
Warning: This story has been Greggytized.
The Little Red Hen
“Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered some grains of wheat. She called her neighbors and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat.
Who will help me plant it?"
"Not I," said the cow. "Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig. "Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
The wheat grew tall and ripened into golden grain. "Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen. Once again the animals spoke out:
"Not I," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the cow.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the pig.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen, and she did.
At last it came time to bake the bread.
"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
And would you know it:
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
" I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will," said the little red hen.
She baked five loaves and held them up for her neighbors to see. And would you know it; they all wanted some and, in fact, they all demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I can eat the five loaves."
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck. "Excess profits!" cried the cow. "I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose. And the pig just grunted. And they painted "unfair" picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
When the government agent came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be greedy." "But I earned the bread," said the little red hen. "Exactly," said the agent. "That is the wonderful free enterprise system.
Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide their product with the idle." And they lived happily ever
after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful. I am grateful." But her neighbors wondered why she never again baked any more bread.”
Let me ask you all a question:
Did you see yourself?
Did the story offend you?
Did this story sound political?
When you heard the responses from the little red hen’s neighbors,
were you offended? Did you think of instances when something
similar had happened to you on your jobs or at church?
This story not only represent the attitude of many in the world, but also, sadly, many Christians. Let’s examine the attitudes of each character of the story. Red Hen. The little red hen was always willing to reach out and accept the help throughout the process. She opened the doors to her neighbor at every step.
When she found the grains of wheat she immediately established a plan. She understood if she planted the grains of wheat she could eventually produce enough bread for everyone. She called her neighbors and asked for help and no one wanted to help so she did it alone. When the wheat grew, she asked for help cutting it down. Now when they turned her down they provided some reasons that really spoke to what was in their hearts.
Even though they would all benefit from the bread, in their mind they were not getting “paid” to do it and it was not in their job descriptions. One did not want to lose their unemployment benefits by actually working. So she did it herself. When it came down to the actual baking of the bread, she asked again if they wanted to help and once again they all turned her down. Their reasons ranged from losing their welfare benefits by working to discrimination if one was the only one who chose to help. So she baked the bread alone.
Here is what I want you to see in the little red hen.
She knew what needed to be done. She asked for help and after everyone turned her down, she got the job done alone. She did not let the other’s attitudes stop her from doing what she knew needed to be done.
It took longer, it was harder, but she said within herself, if no one else helps me, I will get this job done. When the bread was done and she refused to share, they called her names, picketed her home and even turned her in to the government. The Duck, Cow, Pig and Goose. The duck refused her offer three times, but only gave a reason once. The reason he did not want to help bake the bread was because he would lose his welfare benefits.
Sometimes it’s much easier and comfortable barely making ends meet when you’re getting assistance and even if you could earn/do more the fear of losing what you currently have keeps you imprisoned in a place and state of mind that will never let you be free to ask “what if?” The cow and the pig had similar reasons for turning down the red hen’s request. Their responses focused on job classification/skill training and only doing what they were paid to do and nothing more.
They knew the confines of their roles and were comfortable staying within them. The goose did not want to lose her unemployment benefits or be discriminated against. Think about the attitude represented here? If you’re the only one that steps up to do something that no one else is willing to do then you can claim discrimination before you are the only one required to do that job.
When all was said and done and the bread was baked, the little red hen suffered verbal abuse, name calling and picketing outside of her home. Who was doing it? The same neighbors who refused to help her
throughout the process. Why were they doing this? Because the little red hen did not agree with their request that she should share her bread that they refused to help bake. What was the government’s response? That yes she would have to share because the workers must support those who refuse to work!
Oh this has so many applications to what is happening in America today, both on our jobs and in the Church.
What was the little red hen’s response to all of this?
She was grateful but stopped baking bread!
She refused to support those who were able to work themselves.
She refused to be the only one working to feed the masses.
She decided to take care of herself and leave the others to themselves.
All of us at some point in our lives may have been each of these characters from the story. This story is about attitudes and our desire to get something for free; to obtain something without working for it. In life we want the best health care for free because we live in the U.S. We want a good salary and benefits without having to work too hard. We want successful children without having to invest in their education during their formative years; train them to study and work hard; or discipline them when needed. We want to own nice things but we refuse to work and save.
We want to retire from our jobs and live comfortably without saving for retirement and this is just what takes place in our secular lives. Spiritually we want to learn without studying. We want to be churched without going to church. When we go to Church we want to be “ministered to” in song and the preached word versus participating in the ministry experience.
We want the deliverer of the word to study and prepare a sound, fact based message that we do not take notes on and forget by the time we watch our first football game on Sunday afternoon.
We want a Church building with heat and air and no maintenance and we expect others to fund it.
We want salvation “for free” because Jesus already paid the price so there is nothing more we need to do besides just believing in Him.
My lifestyle does not have to change because Jesus accepts me for who I am. I am saved because I was baptized, end of story! We want “free” rewards in heaven without having done any works for God here on earth.
We want it and we want it for FREE!
Friends, life is not free.
There is a cost associated with being in this world and we have to be willing to accept and pay it if we are going to fulfill the mission that God has for us during our time here. I want you to think about your ministry work or lack thereof (I define ministry work as anything you’re doing to further God’s kingdom in the world.)
As you think about what you are doing within and outside of these church walls, “When is enough enough?” “When can you stop?” “When is it someone else’s turn so we can rest?” The reason I want you to ask yourself these questions is because when we serve God “freely”, meaning that we are not receiving any financial rewards for that service, sometimes it becomes tiring, irritating and monotonous – especially when we look around and see other capable people not doing anything to the level that we are within the Church.
We stop thinking about the service we are rendering to God and focus on “Why do I have to do everything?”
Everyone attending this Church are in this together and we cannot function on one person’s gifts or talents alone. We need everyone taking a role and doing “something”, whatever that something may be. But, when you step in to do it, we must be committed to doing our best – no excuses. Be committed. See it through. Stop waiting for someone else to do it because it’s not “my job.” This is the lesson from the story this morning – it’s about our attitudes towards doing the job. God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you.
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Do you know what God has said about you?
Do you understand the work that He has for you to do?
Do you know that when you walk with Him we do not always know where the road will lead and we will have many days when we are frustrated and ready to quit? God knew each of us before we were born. He knew the experiences that we would have that would eventually shape how we think and see ourselves. With all that He has kept the door open for us to walk with Him and allow Him to change how we think, act, and fulfill what He has called us to do for Him. All we have to do is be ready. We have to tell Him what was
recorded in Isaiah 6:8 which say, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
The little red hen was willing to work by herself to get the job done. She did not complain, back down, get frustrated or lose her vision when no one else agreed to work beside her. Her neighbors waited to see the end results but wanted no part of the process to get there. There are many Christians waiting to see the end results but are not willing to take part in the process. God is looking for people to stand up and say, “Here am I Lord, send me!”
That is a totally different commitment level than saying, “Ok Lord, I will do it for now until you can find someone else to take it over.” What is your mindset? Are you willing to do the job even if you have to do it alone? Paul told Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) This should be our prayer.
What is the truth? Jesus died for my sins and for yours and when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, I gave my life to Him.
My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Him. It does not belong to the President of the United States, it belongs to God. That, my friends, is truth! If I understand this truth, I am free to walk in the decisions of man (whether I agree with them or not) because I understand that my life rests in the hands of my Lord and Savior. He will direct my steps.
There is a reason that our children are scared – they are feeding off of the reactions of the adults. Let’s show our children that the God we serve great. Let’s teach them to pray for our leaders as Paul told Timothy. And, as you teach them to pray, help them to understand why they need to pray.
God wants all men saved and walking in truth. However, even when that may not happen, God can still influence a bad leader to do the right thing. Memorize and teach your children Proverbs 21:1 which says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” My life is not my own – it belongs to my Lord and Savior! He has me and if you belong to Him, He has you! So whether you are happy or sad with the results, you are still obligated to walk in your faith to your Father in heaven and in doing so, pray for all of those in authority over us because God through our prayers can
change and direct any heart’s decision that is not turned towards Him. May God bless and keep you.