Humans can be very self-centred, this is really highlighted within relationships whether with man or God. Yet relationships are or should be about reciprocity, mutual benefit or put another way give and take.
I see this a lot in the online world, people are used to taking. There are free offers everywhere and we collect and hoard them, store them away but they hardly see the light of day if at all. They are like trophies or tools that we collect just in case we need them.
But when does taking stop being taking and start to become stealing (taking more than what was given/intended)?
I’ve stolen before and justified it with good intentions. But it doesn’t matter if I say to myself that I have good intentions, that I really need it, that I will re-pay or give back in some way or even if others do the same thing. You see I could easily give myself permission to steal if I allowed my heart to dictate what was right or wrong based on my circumstances but my heart can’t be my barometer. Or, even if I used the question that most people throw at you “how would the other person feel?” This too, isn’t such a good question, again because it relies on their heart and our response to it. The said person may feel it’s OK, they may be so used to giving that it really doesn’t matter how they feel about it or how it affects them, they may even feel like it’s the norm in the world so…. this can’t be my rule either.
I have a new rule, if my actions go beyond the original boundaries of the gift and the giver then I am stealing from them. It really doesn’t matter if what I have received is free or not, if I go beyond these boundaries I have trespassed against them.
I have an issue with Christians at the moment, because they seem to feel it’s their right to have everything for free especially from other Believers. But when we get into the habit of taking, it’s a lot easier to move into the territory of trespassing and feel that it is OK.
Why do Believers have this mentality? A lot of it boils down to these words:
“freely you have received, freely give”
If we are honest we will agree that we like the first half much more than the second but in our minds I think we see it much more like this:
“I’m always giving to others, so why can’t I also take something for myself?”
It doesn’t help when we are constantly faced with preachers and teachers telling us the importance of giving and that failure to give shows a wicked heart, but it does more harm than good. This is because any giving we do isn’t really done willingly or freely, but with the price tag of ‘now I have to at the very least re-coup what I have lost otherwise I will feel cheated’.
Even people who do start off genuinely giving to others can feel worn down by the amount of taking that goes on and eventually become hardened to it all. That is why I feel it’s so important especially within the church to think about how and why we take from others.
Just because something may be freely given, it doesn’t mean that it is free.
It cost someone’s time.
So instead of hoarding stuff, shouldn’t we treat the gift and the giver with respect? Shouldn’t we value it?
And what about God. If we do this with man who we can see, what about our relationship with God.
Should we steal from God?
I write this with tongue in cheek, because I know that this is an oft quoted scripture from Malachi for those who support the giving of tithes.
But I’m not talking about money and correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think that God was interested in money either. I think He was and is interested in relationship.
It’s amazing how many times I pray and come to God with a list of things that I want Him to give to me, I must really like the sound of my own voice and thoughts and maybe think He does too. But how annoyed would I be if I had a friend that always wanted me to give something to them? Would I really call that a relationship?
But I do this with God, because somehow I expect Him to give me stuff.
Freely I have received right?
But how free, was that freely?
Did it have no price?
Did it have no value?
Did it have no limit?
Yes, it did have a price. The price was death.
And yes it did have a value, the blood that was shed was of infinite value.
But it has no limit. This is where we see the giving heart of YHWH God, in that even though the value and price was so costly, He gives, gives and continues to give without reservation.
When I think about this I am humbled.
Doesn’t such giving deserve me to give something back in return? To stop making my life and my time with Him all about me?
Of course. But it also freaks me out and again I go back to the reason of why we find it so much easier to receive than to give.
What if He was to ask me for more than I could give? (This is at the heart of most giving issues) I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to do it, or if I could I would do so with quiet resentment or even with great fear.
Is this what Abba wants from me? To feel forced and coerced to give something to Him.
Is this what He wants in our relationships with others?
To give grudgingly because we have received or because it’s what is expected from us?
Of course not.
So instead, because YHWH is full of such grace and love He asks me.
What can you give to me? He won’t force it out of me, He won’t guilt me into it – but our relationship has to be mutual.
Time Abba. I reply. I can give you more of my time, more of me.
Instead of talking about me and my woes all the time, I can listen and ask after your heart and desires.
Instead of seeking my wants and desires, surely I can respect those days and times that you have told me to set apart for you.
You really aren’t asking me for much. You’re not asking me to convert every person I come into contact with, you’re not asking me to right every wrong in the world, you’re not asking me to do everything for everyone or be everything to even one, you’re not even asking me to perfect myself but you are asking me to value the Gift and have respect for the Giver.
So I pray.
Abba Father help me.
Help me to not be led by my carnal nature so full of fears and insecurities.
Help me not to trespass against you and trespass against others in an attempt to keep getting more and more.
Help me to be able to give freely and from the heart, to you first and then on to others.
Help me to put you first so that you can use me as you will to show your infinite love.
Holy Spirit heal me.
B’shem Yahushua, in Jesus’ name. Amen, let it be so.