October 01, 2013
So many times when a Christian goes to church, her greatest anticipation is what she will receive from God. When we pray, we ask God to bless us, protect us, help us, lead us, and strengthen us. But is this self-centered view really what God has in mind for the members of His body, the church? I think it would be good for us to remember that we are called to work together as a single, living organism, and that the only way to do that is to learn to both give and receive.
As we look at giving, let us use as an example the greatest example that we could use—Jesus Christ. His entire life was one of giving, but we will focus only on one occurrence, the time when He washed His disciples’ feet. We see in the account in John chapter 13 that at this time Jesus knew that His time on earth with His beloved friends was short. Since He would soon be leaving, He wanted to give them a demonstration of His love for them and an illustration about giving to others.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5) Jesus was giving the disciples the best that He could give them. It was not money or material goods, but it was His effort and His love. I’m sure this humble act meant more to these men than if He had made them millionaires. It would be something they would never forget.
We need to realize that as we sit in the pew and pray for God to pour rainbows and sunshine down on our souls and have angels place dollars and car keys into our pockets that there are dozens of other people sitting all around us that have needs, too. It is very possible that their needs are greater than ours. Some people only like to receive. They hoard up blessings, and do not like to share. But we need to follow in the example of Jesus and learn to give ourselves to others and share with them the blessings that have been given us. It may be difficult at first to crucify pride and selfishness, but I guarantee that if you start giving out of a humble and pure heart, you will see that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
We should now realize that we need to give, but the process of giving needs something else to be complete—a receiver. “But wait!” you may say. “You just told us that we need to give and not seek all the things we can receive.” It is necessary and healthy for us to receive if we have good habits of giving. If we first learn how to give, then we can be certain that things will be given unto us (Luke 6:38). We need to have a balance of both giving and receiving. Again, we will look to Jesus to see His example of receiving.
In Luke 7:36-38 we see another account of foot washing, but this time, instead of Jesus washing the feet, we see the feet of Jesus being washed. Jesus did not say, “Stop! I am the Son of God! I don’t need you to wash my feet.” or “You are too wretched of a creature to touch me!” No, He humbly received the adoration and service of this woman.
This is different from Peter’s reaction when Jesus tried washing his feet in John 13. He said, “No way!” For his own reason, he did not want his Master to do this lowly task. Many of us are like Peter. We don’t like to receive help from others. Our pride tells us that we can do it on our own. But we are not called to be individual, little islands. We are called to be a body that works together to meet each others’ needs.
Last Saturday I walked into Moshi with a friend looking for a computer store to buy some toner for the printer at the school. I had been to the computer store with another man before, but I was not paying attention of how to get there. Now I was having difficulty finding it. We walked up and down quite a few streets. I was certain that I was close, but each time we reached the end of a street nothing was familiar.
I told my friend that soon I was going to call the other man that knew where the store was. He asked me why I just didn’t call right then. I answered that I didn’t think I needed help because it was right around there and I knew that I could find it. I was being stubborn. I didn’t want to admit that I had no idea where I was going. Eventually I called for directions and found that I was on the wrong end of town! If I did not humble myself and receive help, I could have wandered for hours and still not have found it.
It’s alright to admit that we need help. God has placed us together as a body for a reason. That reason is to help each other as we all do the work of God.
If the individual members of the church are going to grow up in God and fulfill the plan that has been made for us, then we need to help each other. Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” The hand feeds the mouth. The feet take the mouth to the place where it needs to speak. The eyes give the ears additional information about what it is hearing. As the body of Chirist, we need each other’s help.
You have something to give that someone else in the church needs. You may say, “But I don’t have a lot of money to give.” It is interesting how when we think of giving, the first thing we think of is monetary donations, but we forget there are many other things that we can give. Consider the following lists of things that you could give to others in the church:
There is a great work for the church to do in reaching for the lost, but that work will never be achieved if we don’t help each other. It will never happen if we don’t learn to give and receive.
Written by Matthew James Derocher who writes about biblical subjects and teaches in a Bible college in Tanzania, Africa. You can follow him on Twitter