Bequeath thine own that is not thine,
Spare not compassion to a fellow in need
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
To give is required of him who receives
In much or in little, the portion is God’s,
And what remains shall be scattered seed
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
–Matthew 10:8 (KJV)
This is a mighty hard verse to swallow. You want to believe it, but you also have trouble fitting that command into reality. It doesn’t belong in reality. That’s why we call it supernatural, (which for some insane reason doesn’t mean hyper-natural). God doesn’t want to work solutions in our life and in this world; He wants to work miracle: supernatural acts only explained by the glory of God working through His creation!
We are to freely give of ourselves and of the blessings we have received by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you notice though, the tagline of this verse, “Freely ye have received, freely give”, in context is not referring to money–though it is often used to make that appeal–, but rather about the miracles and glory of God manifest by His Spirit. The verse doesn’t say, “feed the poor, cleanse lepers, cast out demons”. Too often we hold up the disciples of Jesus as our examples for Christian living: they are not. The disciples are the standard we look up to and strive for, but not the example we seek to mimic as a local body of believers.
The charge given to the disciples was not the same that was given to the church. The disciples were great men of God: evangelists and missionaries. To them was given the casting out of demons, healing sick, cleansing lepers, raising dead. But, to the church was given the care of the orphans and widows, feeding poor, protecting the helpless, rehabilitating sinners, supporting the brethren. We look to the early church for our example, more specifically, the commands given to them. Most of us are not apostles or missionaries, great evangelists or orators, but that’s not our job. God uses each in his own way to give back what He has given to us.
We are the church. What we have been given: money, estate, position, influence, talent, knowledge, etc… we are to be freely giving to others. Albeit, not squandering, but not hoarding the tangible and fleeting things of earth.
I’m not a rich person. Growing up I never had a lot of money, but I did then and still do enjoy giving to others. I don’t work in ratios very well. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to give the majority of my money to others. I may keep a large portion back, but what I give is never contingent on what I make. I give much when I have little, and more when I have a lot. I’m not saying this to brag on myself, I just never have had a love for money.
It’s always been easy for me to give freely in that area. But what about time, knowledge? I’m prideful. I like knowing more than others. I often make others mad because I won’t answer their question simply and directly. I enjoy having a sense of superiority. I’m stingy with my time, (see, I even called it my time). I don’t like doing things that are not my favorite. I prioritize myself over others. What I have in monetary given, I make up for by a gross lack in time giving and knowledge sharing.
You see, Christians should be characterized by an attitude of giving. Even more than that, or compassion for others should compel us to give. The love of God working in and through us gives us this desire to give unto others. Every gift we give is a representation of our love and esteem.
[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
–Philippians 2:3 (KJV)
We are told in the Bible to esteem others better than ourselves. That means we are to care about their wants, needs, and to consider them before we consider ourselves. When you look at others as if you are no better than they are, when you esteem your fellow man as an equal or superior, you treat them that way. I believe this is why Jesus could so easily love, do for, and mingle with sinners. He was better than all of us, Jesus was the only perfect human to ever live, yet He esteemed the lowliest and most reprobate above himself. Not to say on a spiritual scale He believe them to be superior. But, He put others first.
Going back to the first verse, “freely ye have received, freely give”. This life is a gift from God. Every breath is not to be expected because each moment we live is a gift. We have received this life as a gift, we should freely give of ourselves, of this life to others. We’re not here to just freely give our money; that should go without saying. We don’t like people talking about how we should spend our money, because let’s face it, we worked for it, we gave of ourselves and our lives to get it: it is ours. No one should tell you how to spend your own money, but when every moment on this earth is a gift from God Himself, what is money by comparison? Were it not for God, we wouldn’t have the ability to earn this money, we wouldn’t even have a life to spend the money on. God owns all the riches of earth, everything is His. Money is a given. (Pun intended)
Time gets me almost every time, especially when I think about how much time I am devoting to myself. I used to blog every day; it was a sacrifice on my part because I had to forfeit my pleasure time in order to fit blogging into the commitments of my day. You’ll discover this if you haven’t already, to make time for the things you want to do, you must exchange something else you want to do. If you have daily obligations, those cannot be cut out of your routine to make room for something else, particularly something that is not necessary.
Blogging was a sacrifice of my personal time, thus it was a ministry, it was a gift to the world, to my readers in particular, it was me giving my time to do something for someone else. That being said, I probably should do it more often. But time is something I have issues with giving, mainly because I enjoy the time I spend on myself. Little things like sleep, gaming, listening to music, reading a book, writing a book. Those are all things I do by myself, and that is a selfish use of time unless it is directly or indirectly for the benefit of someone else.
Okay, I know a few of you don’t feel like you’re guilty of this, but you are and so am I. Knowledge is something we like to hoard, something that we gain from experiences as well as studies. Have you ever accidentally tripped over something, and then, rather than warning others that they might also trip, you stepped aside to watch them do it? It’s all fun as long as no one gets hurt. But, it is beneficial to you and the other person to realize that there is something there that is dangerous, and could potentially cause you to fall.
Has anyone ever asked you an obvious question? So obvious you didn’t want to tell them the answer because they should already know it or be able to figure it out? These are all basic, physical aspects of how we can be stingy with our knowledge. But it extends a lot farther, knowledge also applies to the knowledge of the gospel. There are many who don’t know about the gospel, and you have that knowledge of what it is and how it can change people. Don’t be stingy with that knowledge, don’t hoard it. Don’t avoid situations where you might have to give out that knowledge simply because it might be uncomfortable, you’re unsure how someone will respond to it, or you have a fear of being rejected. Know this: if someone rejects your witness of the gospel they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Christ. We are to freely give of the things with which we have been blessed. The gospel is the greatest news, the greatest gift that we are privileged to share; so share it!
Wrapping it all up. It is the responsibility of Christians, a local community of believers, the church in general, to freely give out the blessings of God we have received. Ultimately, life is not about us anymore. Life was about sinners before they were saved. Life revolved around them, even up until the point that they found salvation in Christ Jesus and excepted Him. But the moment that sinner accepted Jesus Christ and became a Christian, their life instantaneously change from being about them to being about others. It is our duty as Christians to bring the maximum glory to God the Father! The primary way we do that is by living our lives for Him and living them to and for others. Freely give.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist