ROSE HILL UNITED METHODIST
Receiving and Giving
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When I was younger, I remember my mother taking my brother and me to the duck pond at the cemetery. There we would find ducks of all shapes and colors just swimming about and happy as could be, especially if you brought some stale bread to feed them as we did. How fun it was to see them waddle about and swim up to us for a bite. I still hear their little quacks. Looking back on it, whenever we fed them, we never expected anything in return. In freely giving to them, we freely received from them the joy of their presence, being just what God made them to be, waddling tails, happy quacks, and all. I find now a similar experience of giving without expectation when I share Bible stories with the children of our preschool. When I tell stories to them, I don’t think of them as owing me anything, yet what they give is beyond what I can repay. It’s beautiful to see the glory of God in their smiles, laughs, and random questions.
There is a beautiful exchange in freely giving and freely receiving. I wish all of my life were like this. What if it could be? What might hold us back from such graceful give and receive? I think what stops us is that we don’t know how to receive. When Jesus says, “Seek his kingdom,” it is followed by, “and you will receive these things as well.” JD Walt, the former dean of the chapel at Asbury Seminary said, “To the extent we can receive from God, our lives will be a gift to others.” That’s why Jesus says that God is happy to give us the kingdom. So sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out and a treasure in heaven that will never fail. For where your heart is, there your treasure is also.
Yet we are bad at receiving, aren’t we? We are much more prone to taking. That’s why we worry about our lives, what we’ll eat or drink, and what we’ll wear. We’re too busy trying to acquire status that matches the world around us rather than receiving the kingdom God gives to us as freely as he gives to the birds and the flowers. This nature of taking over receiving is inherent to our sinfulness. It is our brokenness, the brokenness we see in Eden itself, where we preferred to take and steal what we wanted rather than receive and content ourselves with what God freely gave. Fear leads to taking. Faith and love lead to giving. Our ability to give is a reflection of our ability to receive. May we fear less, love more, receive the kingdom of God, and freely give to others in abundance.
Grace and Peace! Pastor Chris