May 11, 2013

Giving or Receiving – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:45 pm by sranderson0103

While Jesus was training the twelve disciples to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), He also told them, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” John 16:12.  Have you ever wondered why this was so?  Though we are not specifically told, I suspect that the answer has to do with growth, development, understanding, and time.  With their spiritual growth and development, their understanding would increase so that as the events of time unfolded, they would later be able to “bear” truths that they currently could not.

It’s really not any different for would-be disciples today- it often takes some growth, development, and time for us to really understand and be able to “bear” (practice) some of Jesus’ words.  For instance, consider His statement recorded in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (By the way, though these words are quoted by Paul and recorded by Luke- both through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they are not otherwise recorded by any of the four gospel writers.)  When we are younger- in life or in faith, we may admit that such is true in principle, but have a hard time really seeing the value of it in practice.

But, the principle was not given as a maxim to promote a “holiday spirit” of charity, nor was it provided to be relegated to mere gift-giving applications. Jesus is instead describing a code of conduct in life for those who would be His disciples. While still immature in faith, we may submit to this rule because we know it is right, but not really “feel” the way we should about it. In other words, we may do the right thing in this regard without really believing or seeing the value in it ourselves. But with the growth and maturity that time allows, true understanding of the principle is gained. Let’s consider some specifics to illustrate our point. Do you think (in your mind), feel (in your heart), and believe (in your soul) that it is better for you to give:

Attention rather than to receive it? Or do you still crave, or even demand other’s attention like a little fella who wants everyone to focus on him? Read Philippians 2:1-4, please.

Support and Encouragement rather than to receive them?  Are you one who always expects others to “help” and/or “support me,” but never seems to be found on the giving end of the matter? Please read 1Thessalonians 5:14-15.

Compassion and Sympathy rather than to receive them? Do you always expect others to listen to and commensurate with all your troubles and how “bad” you feel, and to provide sympathy and compassion to you, but rarely (if ever) are truly compassionate and sympathetic to anyone beside yourself?  Read Colossians 3:12-13, please.

Education and Enlightenment rather than to receive them? When it comes to spiritual education and edification (to build up), are you a “giver” or just a “taker”?  Please read Hebrews 5:12-14.

Forgiveness rather than to receive it? Are you one who wants (and expects) everyone else to forgive you whenever you ask and whether there is any true sorrow for the offence or not, but are very begrudging when it comes to forgiving others? Read Ephesians 4:32 and James 2:13, please.

Love rather than to receive it? Do you desire or even demand unconditional love from others, but are quick to place conditions upon the love you give?  Please read Matthew 5:44-48.

Now do you see why some divine directives require the growth and maturity that only time and experience can provide to really understand, “bear,” and practice?  While we are yet spiritually immature, we would much rather receive than give all of these things.  In fact, our still adolescent faith may not allow us to be able to give them at all.  Have you matured in your faith sufficiently to not only understand, but also to “bear” the principle that “It is more blessed to give than to receive”? If not, then maybe it is time to get busy and “grow up”!

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