Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” We’ve all heard this verse. I for one am convinced I live by this verse. After all, all my conflicts are someone else’s fault, right? But Matthew 7:1-5 says I should be more concerned about the log in my own eye than the speck in yours. Maybe I need to dig a little deeper and examine myself a little more closely.
(If you need to know what this is all about, start with the first post in the series and click through the succeeding links. Also, as posts are added links will be placed in that first post to each one.)
Today, I want to…
Give Something Worth Getting.
The Greater Blessing
Imagine you are taking a standardized test and you are asked to choose the word that most accurately completes the following sentence:
Today, I want to ___________ something worth getting.
Let’s face it, on that test, we would have picked D not B. What a shock to find out the real answer is to give and not receive. That’s our goal today–not to receive something worth getting, not to hoard something worth keeping, but to give something worth getting.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What?! How can that be? Surely it is more of a blessing to receive. I guess that depends on the heart. If we have taking, grasping, hoarding, selfish hearts, we’ll never grasp why we should want to give rather than receive something worth getting. However, if we can develop selfless, serving, sharing, generous hearts, then both Jesus’ statement and Kelsey’s make perfect sense.
The struggle, of course, if you’re like me, is there is just so much stuff out there that we want. Advertisements on television and radio abound with cool stuff. We drive by our dream cars and dream houses every day. Our friends all have cool stuff. It is just so simple to get caught up in the pursuit of stuff. Selfishness is just too easy. Our two favorite days of the year are birthday and Christmas. Why? Because we get stuff and it better be stuff worth getting. If not, we’ll return it to the store so we can select the stuff we think is worth getting.
However, this endless pursuit of stuff is…well…endless. There is not a set amount of stuff that will ever be enough. No level of getting will provide fulfillment or meaning in life. There is not some perfect gift out there that will end our desire for more. Lasting contentment, peace, serenity, joy, and satisfaction do not come from receiving. In fact, think back to your last birthday or your last Christmas. What did you get? Can you remember five things? Can you remember even one? Today, do you feel fulfilled because of the great presents you received in the past or is your materialism geared up for the next gadget, gizmo, or gift you hope to receive that will fix things?
The Great Fix
Shakespeare wrote, “To receive or to give, that is the question. To get, perchance to be satisfied. Ay, there’s the rub. For in what receiving can we ever find fulfillment.” Well, he didn’t write exactly that, but it does get to the point. Somehow we convince ourselves that all our hopes, dreams, and plans will be fulfilled in the next purchase. We convince ourselves all our fears, insecurities, and anxieties will be resolved with the right gift. Like an addict seeking the next high, we are sure if we could just get that right thing, everything will be fixed in our lives. We’ve been waiting and waiting, searching and searching, receiving and receiving, but it never happens. When the old gift wears off, we start looking for a new one.
As a teen, I was certain having a car would fix things. Now I have a car and it is the thing that most needs fixing. I used to be certain owning my own house would provide satisfaction. Now I have a house and what I’m sure will satisfy is a house with a pool, game room, and my very own office. I was absolutely sure having an expensive, classy-looking, impressive day planner would solve my discipline issues. It did for about a week, now I’m not even sure where it is. I was convinced getting a new computer would fix my technology woes. For a month I was on cloud nine. Now, I’ve seen the newest version at the store and I’m dying to get it. On and on and on I could go. Acquiring stuff just doesn’t fix anything. Rather, it simply reminds us of the emptiness of material goods. They look shiny. They are impressive. But really they are hollow. Many people are depressed because they didn’t get what they wanted today. However, many are depressed because they did and it hasn’t helped at all. No wonder Jesus also said our lives are not made up of our possessions.
What then are our lives made of? What does provide meaning? Relationships. How do relationships grow? Through giving. Yes, sometimes through giving gifts, but usually through giving ourselves. Give time. Give a listening ear. Give a shoulder to cry on. Give help. Give effort. Give understanding. Give vulnerability. Give support. Give intimacy. Give yourself. As you release your grasp on all the stuff you want and start giving of yourself to others, watch your peace and serenity grow. Feel fulfillment increase. See meaning in your life swell.
The Golden Rule
Jesus also said we should treat others the way we want to be treated. That is the heart of giving something worth getting. Instead of demanding that others treat us the way we want to be treated, instead of demanding that others sacrifice for us, we must treat them the way we want to be treated, we must sacrifice for them. When we are focused on giving rather than receiving, we are focused on others.
However, we go even a step further. We are not just giving. We are giving something worth getting. This is no half-hearted attempt to give. This is not giving as an afterthought. This is not giving as manipulation. This is sacrificial love. When we give something worth getting, the recipient will know it would have been worth keeping. Yet, instead of keeping it, we gave it to them.
Here is a great place to start. Pick someone with whom you are having a real problem, someone who just rubs you the wrong way, someone with whom you have bitter resentments. Take the prayer challenge for them. For the next month, at least once per day, pray that God will grant that person the blessings you want and need in your life. At the end of the month, see how your perspective toward that person has changed. Then you can take another step. Don’t just pray about it, start being an answer to your prayer and give blessing to that person. Now, if you think that will positively impact your relationship with someone who is an enemy, imagine what it will do when that is how you treat your friends as well.
Today, I don’t want to focus on receiving. I want to focus on giving. I don’t want to give just anything. Half measures avail nothing. I want to give something worth getting.
(Come back next Wednesday as we learn about Choosing Something Worth Keeping.)