Giving or Taking

Giving or Taking
 
The words of Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)
 
We know these words. Many of us strive to live out these words. In our daily lives, we often see others demonstrating and experiencing this truth.
 
But being very transparent, lately I have been convicted of my attitude in this area. I give of myself; but do I give joyfully? Sometimes I put others needs ahead of my own; but do I do this without expecting something in return? 
 
What I keep asking myself is, ‘Are my actions truly motivated by feelings of indebtedness, or is my attitude one of entitlement?
 
Giving of ourselves in a way that honors Jesus Christ requires an understanding of, and appreciation for, our debt.
 
Our Debt to Others
  • Romans 1:13-15 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
    • We owe it to those who are blinded by Satan to preach a sermon every day: by sharing the gospel; and by the way we live our lives (2 Corinthians 4:3-5, Matthew 5:16).
    • We owe it to other Christians, particularly those less mature than us in their faith, to be patient, loving and self-sacrificing (Romans 14). 
Our Debt to God
  • Romans 8:11-13 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
    • We owe God everything for our salvation, we are His (1 Corinthians 6:20)!
    • We owe it to God to submit our lives to the leading of His Spirit that indwells us (Romans 8:5-8)! 
Recognizing, admitting and addressing our sense of entitlement only comes from examining who we really are in the mirror of God’s Word.
  • James 1:22-24 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
This dilemma slaps me in the face daily:
  • When my ‘needs’ conflict with the needs of others.
    • ‘I would tell them about Jesus, but I just don’t have the time right now.’
  • When I see a need that God has blessed me with the means to satisfy, but I am not willing or ready to give.
    • ‘Why should I give them my money? They need to get a job!’
  • When I am more focused on the impact my giving will have on me and my life than on the life of the one I am giving to.
    • ‘What will others think of me if I start talking about Jesus in this setting?’
  • When I feel I have already given all I can, should or want to.
    • ‘I’ve done enough already.’
  • When I feel someone else doesn’t deserve what I have.
    • ‘I’ve worked hard for what I have.’ 
There are some tough questions in my life that need to be answered.
  • Am I praising God and thanking Him for the opportunity to bless others through sharing the truth about Christ and/or sacrificial giving?
  • Am I resentful about the obstacles I face each day and expecting God to make life easier?
  • Am I giving, or am I taking?  
Honestly, sometimes I am not sure. But one thing is for sure, the One who sees my heart, He knows.
 
Prayer
 
Lord, there is more need in this world than I can comprehend. And yet You have blessed me far beyond what I could ask, imagine or expect. I pray dear Lord, whether it is sharing the truth about Christ, or whether it is giving of my time, talents and treasures, You will give me the love, grace, humility and generosity to joyfully share with those in need. Forgive my selfish nature. Forgive my laziness. Forgive my sense of entitlement. My debt is every before me; may I not turn from it. All this I ask through Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.