In It to Give It

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.

Luke 17:3-10

    So watch yourselves.

    “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. [4] If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

    [5] The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

    [6] 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.

    [7] “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’? [8] 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’? [9] Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? [10] 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).