Give and Receive
Give and Receive
In Acts 20, Paul lets us in on one of the great truths of life, a lesson that Jesus Himself taught. It's a truth that's antithetical to much of what you hear in the world today. It's not something that we're taught much about when we're kids or even something that we learn naturally as adults. Furthermore, it's nearly impossible to learn this truth. It's almost necessary to experience it to understand it completely. And therein lies the complex nature of this truth. Most of the world, culture, and the influences (or influencers) around us need us to believe the opposite of this truth wholeheartedly. But the fact of the matter is, we need something very different than what the world tells us. We need to give.
In every way I've shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
It is more blessed to give than to receive. When was the last time you believed that? I don't mean that you understood it with your mind. I mean, when was the last time that truth was an integral part of your life. First and foremost, I want to clear something up about that word give. When we use that word, we can and we will be talking about many different avenues of service. People often get hung up on the financial side of that word "give." And yes, that is an essential component of this principle. But, we want to dig deeper into the truth, to uncover the joy and satisfaction that comes from living a life balanced with giving and receiving of your time, talents, and your treasure.
So, why is giving better?
Giving Changes Your Worldview
There's a way that we're taught to look at the world. Over time, we start seeing the world as things to be had. Life begins to revolve around the things we want, need, or don't have. Ironically, we're the biggest victims of this mindset. Our focus on the things we don't have drifts our attention away from the things that we do have. This concept applies to stuff, but it also extends to the irreplaceable things in life too. Work takes the place of family. Pleasure takes the place of our health. Eventually, we start trusting in things like careers, relationships, and riches. Jesus talked about this specific type of trust when he encountered the rich young ruler. This young ruler approached Jesus, desperate to find the key to eternal life. He had kept the commandments, but Jesus recognized something in him.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Jesus recognized that the rich young ruler trusted his possessions more than anything else. Having wealth is not the issue here; the issue is valuing wealth above all else.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
1 Timothy 6:10a
When we give, we're actively teaching ourselves the principle that Jesus taught the disciples in Mark 10, that there are things more important in life than stuff. And that above all, God is the most important thing in our lives. Again, this doesn't just apply to money. When we give our time, we recognize that someone else needs it more than we do. When we give in relationships, we value others needs above our own. When we give our lives, we recognize that it's not our will that's most important, it's God's.
Giving Changes the World's View of You
In a world that takes, you stand out when you give.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
We live our lives as examples for others. Children look to parents for guidance. Students look to teachers for instruction. As a society, we look to our elders for wisdom. Most importantly, though, the world is looking at the Church. And when we, as Christians, set aside something as valuable as our time or money, we're teaching the world something special about our faith, something that Jesus taught the disciples.
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This scripture is clear about worry. Usually, when we read it, we internalize it. That is, we think about how anxiety feels, how it affects us, and how our lives can be improved if we make deliberate efforts to combat stress. And that's absolutely true of this passage! Jesus' comments here should encourage us to resist the urge to let worry consume us and to seek the help of friends or professionals if we need it. There's more here, though. Jesus is teaching the disciples, and us, that God knows our needs, and He will provide for them.
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
God is big. He's much bigger than what we think we need or know about life. Jesus teaches this to the disciples, and we read it throughout the Bible. God teaches this truth to us so thoroughly because it's one of the most effective ways of sharing God's love with those around us.
Giving is Christlike
When we give, we're like Christ.
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus taught again and again that we should give. He taught that service above self was essential and that we should think about the needs of others. Then, turning those lessons inward, He taught us not to have an unhealthy obsession with stuff. Like Jesus often did, He focused in on the heart of the issue, showing us that more often than not, we don't give because we don't trust God. We're more focused on acquiring stuff than we are helping others, or we're so afraid of what we don't have that we miss out on what God has for us. Jesus' ministry drove these truths home consistently, and finally, in the end, He gave us the ultimate example of these teachings. He sacrificed Himself for us, putting our needs, our wants, and our lives above His own. So the best way we can live by His example is to give and receive, living life balanced around both of those principles.
How can you give?
There are so many ways to give! Let's focus on some ways you can give back right here in Starkville.
You can donate.
Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the United Way are always looking for quality donated goods. If you're not sure where to start, give them a call and see what they may need! These organizations rely on the donations of people in their local communities. FBC Starkville also partners with organizations like these regularly to give you opportunities to support your community. Some great examples are our CPS Backpack Drive and the Baby Bottle Boomerang.
You can give your time.
Organizations like the Palmer Home Thrift Store and the Christian Women's Job Corp often need part-time volunteers to help them fill in the gaps. If you don't know where to start, all you have to do is give them a call! You can also always volunteer at FBC Starkville as well. It takes an army of volunteers working behind the scenes to host our weekend services. Everything that happens on campus is essential, and there's a place for people to serve in almost any capacity.
You can give financially.
Organizations like St. Jude do incredible, life-saving work, but it is also incredibly expensive. Many organizations rely on contributions for their day-to-day operations. Don't think that you can't give enough or that you can't afford to give. Every dollar counts, and every step you take to give back is essential. These are just a few ways to give, but you can find more ways to give of your time and resources by visiting the Serve Local wall in the Commons. The important part is that you live your life balanced. Find ways to give back. Find ways to serve. You can do these things at FBC Starkville and we encourage you to do so. You can talk to any minister or sign up online to serve. But don't stop there. There are organizations in our local community, and across our nation, that need the support of regular people like you and me. They need us to be the hands and the feet, to act out the truths that Jesus lived and died on the cross teaching. They need us to give. Every day that we give, we'll become more and more like Christ, and that's why Jesus taught us that giving is so much better than receiving.