Extended Hands, Open Hands
Jeff LyleCrosswalk.com blogspot for Jeff Lyle of TransformingTruth
- 2015 Mar 10
A slight irritation began to find me when a friend refused to let me bless him recently. This is a good guy, a hard-working servant of the Lord. I became aware of a need that he had and did some investigative work to see if I could facilitate that need being met. Respectful of boundaries, I started gently indicating to him that I wanted to help. He didn’t take the bait. I pressed a little further. His red flag went up and my offer to help was cast down. It bugged me because I really was looking forward to helping him but he wasn’t wanting any help. The same week husband and wife, friends of mine, contacted me and communicated that they believed God desired to bless my family through them. My heart wrestled with their generosity the same way my don’t-you-dare-bless-me friend’s heart must have wrestled with my offer to him. But I didn’t let my impulse overtake my response. I said yes to my friends offer and am rejoicing in God’s kindness to me through them. Here is something that took me a long time to learn:
When I recognize that I ultimately own nothing and that it all belongs to God, it frees me up to live as one who both gives and receives. Nothing to prove and nothing to lose.
Giving brings joy to the Christian’s heart and we should never wonder why this is so. Jesus teaches that it is superior to give something away than to receive something. He did not say, however, that receiving something was bad or wrong. He just said that a lifestyle of giving is a more solid means of happiness than a lifestyle of receiving is. Truly, we serve a counterintuitive King.
Speaking with a young couple recently I was blessed to see how God was working in their lives. She runs a small business and he finished up his military career to begin a new season of career and calling. We talked along the lines of finances, faith and family. She spoke of her joy in giving and candidly admitted that it was more difficult for her to be on the receiving end. Just a few days before that conversation I was dialoging with a pastor friend whose ministry stood in need of some essential supplies. Another ministry came alongside to provide those needs and I was blessed that, as the receiving pastor communicated what had happened, he spoke with a sincere appreciation of the ministry which came to his aid but reserved the highest praise for the God who provided practical care for him. He had that rare ability to receive from God through human agency without being changed in any way by that human agency. We call that wisdom and integrity where I came from. The Apostle Paul bragged on the impoverished saints in Macedonia who begged Paul not to leave them out of the opportunity to participate in taking up an offering for others (2 Cor. 8:1-4). They despaired of possibly not being included in the act of giving to others…and they were the poorest of the poor! Paul himself didn’t act in any pretense or false humility when he wrote thanks to the church at Philippi about the offering he received from them. He was not ashamed or embarrassed or worried about his reputation as he received in his hand what they sent from their hearts. Giving and receiving are simply parts of life and it is only those who fail to embrace God’s viewpoint on this principle that perpetually struggle in this area.
Sometimes God will ordain that you will be the giver. Be swift to respond, be joyful and be as generous as you can be as often as you can be. Use discretion when you give what God has entrusted to you…but don’t overcomplicate it with the paralysis of analysis. Give with no strings attached and give it unto the Lord in a big-picture kind of way. Remember, in truth it is never yours or mine to give or keep. We are managers of God’s property and to whom much is given, much is required. The opposite side of the coin is equally important. Your faith is displayed in part but what kind of receiver you are. Do not be proud and refuse gracious and generous offers. You are not self-sufficient so do not pretend to be. As believers, we do well not to block opportunities for others to be used of God in the act of giving. Self-reliant saints struggle with this immensely (I used to). Humble yourself and recognize that God loves to lavish his children at times with that which we could never provide on our own. Don’t be ashamed – be thankful! Unless you are bound in greed or selfishness, you would love to meet someone else’s needs if the Lord provided you the means to do so. Perhaps He will one day. Respond now as a receiver as you hope people will one day respond to you as a giver.
Remember, we came into this life with nothing in hand. We will exit this life the same way. Between now and then there is a whole lot of shuffling of God’s stuff around between us all. Shuffle with wisdom, humility and joy. This pleases the One who owns it all.