ISSUES OF FAITH: The paradox of proactive giving’s reward

DO YOU LIKE to receive gifts? I think most people do.

Sometimes gifts can be expected: birthdays, holidays, graduations and, if you’re a young child, even when a tooth falls out.

But one of the paradoxical principles of biblical truth is that if we want to receive, we must learn to give.

This giving to receive principle is found in the gospel of Luke where it says, “… give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 ESV).

In context, this paradox directly follows the commands of not judging in order to escape judgment, not condemning so we won’t be condemned and forgiving so we will be forgiven.

In each situation, proactive measures need to be taken: Be gracious to receive grace. Forgive to receive forgiveness. Give to receive.

Too often we wait to receive; God wants us to be proactive givers.

Do you want more joy in your life? Then be a joy-giver. The more joy you expend, the more you will receive.

Would you like to be noticed or appreciated? Most people do. Then notice and appreciate other people.

Look around you. Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s your child or your child’s teacher. Maybe it’s the police officer writing you a speeding ticket.

You have the power to give the gift of kindness, even if it’s a kind word.

Maybe you would simply like to be accepted for who you are. Again, look around you.

Do you accept some people and reject others? What’s your criterion for accepting or rejecting?

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God doesn’t want us to stay sinners. He wants to change us, but he doesn’t wait for us to change before he will accept us. Do you?

Maybe you’re lonely. Many people are.

Are you waiting for someone to come cure your loneliness? Many people do.

Maybe it’s time for you to become the cure for someone else’s loneliness. You won’t have to go far, and you might even be able to begin with a phone call.

Or maybe it’s time to dust the house and invite someone over for a cup of coffee.

Do you need material provisions? Money? Food?

If so, you’re a prime candidate for giving to receive.

One day, Jesus noticed wealthy people putting some of their money into the temple collection plate, but he also noticed a poor widow put two small coins into the same collection plate.

Jesus is observant. He told his disciples that the widow gave the largest offering: She gave “extravagantly” (Luke 21:4).

Maybe it’s time for you to give extravagantly in order to discover what God will extravagantly put into your lap.

This giving to receive precept comes straight from the heart of God. His most extravagant gift to us is his son, Jesus Christ.

By putting our faith in Jesus, we receive God’s free gifts of grace, forgiveness and salvation (e.g., Romans 3:22, 5:15-17, John 4:10, Ephesians 1:8).

But what does God receive if we respond to his lavish generosity? What does he get for being a giver?

Joy. God gets the joy of a restored relationship. A relationship with you. A relationship with me. A relationship that can begin today and last for eternity.

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, italics added).

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT, italics added).

May you experience God’s pleasure as you give — and as you receive.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is jbc@joycebiblechurch.org.

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