On the way to a marriage retreat this past weekend I received an e-mail from a friend. He is suffering from extremely serious an advanced cancer and had just gone through ten hours of brain surgery the day before. The subject line on his e-mail read “we are praying for you” and it was sent to encourage me in my recent health challenges – as well as to let me know that he and his wife were praying for me daily. As I read his e-mail tears were streaming down my face. It was so humbling, and encouraging – knowing that he and his wife (in all their pain) were thinking of and praying for me. I felt very unworthy… My little situation was so minor in comparison that I felt I didn’t deserve to be the focus of their prayers. But then I remembered the scripture Acts 20:35
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
I realized that their “giving attitude” is the reason why they are so faithful and joyful amidst dire circumstances. Even while enduring their trials they are in this life to give – just like Jesus. The fact that it is more blessed to give than receive is just the simple truth that can make you plain ol’ happy. If I don’t allow myself to be given to, not only am I lacking humility – but I’m also standing in the way of someone’s happiness.
The following scripture has helped me, often in more ways than I can remember. It grounds me and helps me renew my decision to give no matter the circumstance around me or emotions within me. When I feel like something is unfair, when it is difficult to forgive, or when the sin of entitlement creeps in telling me I deserve something…. I try to picture the Son of God, the creator of the universe and his example as a servant. He was “in it to give it” . I hear the words of this scripture in the recesses of my mind. Sometimes it’s a fight of the wills, but nonetheless I know what is right and what brings joy so it’s best if I surrender.
So watch yourselves.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”
Everything I have is a gift from God and I don’t deserve any of it. Whenever I think God owes me I become critical and self focused. When I get my thinking straight about what God has done for me I want to reciprocate and give back.
Whether in my marriage, my friendships, my outreach, my work…. If I can approach them all with the attitude to give – it makes a world of difference in how I feel and interact. At times my own will and desire can fight the “giving spirit.” Then I rely on God’s promise that He will give me the will and the power to accomplish His good pleasure. Philip. 2:13
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
I rely on that. I can’t do it without Him working in me to give me the will (the want to) as well as the strength to turn good intentions into actions. I do want to be in it (this life) to give it (serving like Jesus served).