“Freely you have received; freely give.”
I am quite convinced that I have the largest sweet tooth of our day and age. Or at least, I did, before all the cavities ate it down in size.
This also means that I’ve had a terribly hard time learning to share those sweets. There are many times in my past in which I’ve been reluctant to hand out a few pieces of candy (single-digits, mind you) from the three-pound bag I was eating from. I’ve repented for my candy-hoarding since then, but that’s how I was: I valued the various combinations of sugar and high fructose corn syrup so much that I was very selective in giving it away. I knew the end of the bag was coming, and I wanted to make the deliciousness last as long as possible.
I’m afraid this mindset may have infiltrated my faith. I have been guilty, at times, of being very selective in giving away blessing. And I think it’s because I’ve had a “The end of the bag is coming” approach. In Christianese, that translates to a “poverty mentality.” It means that when we don’t truly believe God’s resources are endless, we end up hoarding the blessing, fruit, favor, gifts, and power that come through a relationship with the Father. But Jesus turns all of that upside down with this statement: “Freely you have received.”
Understanding the abundance of God is vital for our lives to reach their maximum potential in Christ, because we cannot receive more without first giving away what we have. In this single statement, Jesus teaches the disciples that our eagerness and effectiveness in ministry is directly related to our understanding of how much blessing God is pouring out on us. If we believe that God only gives a little at a time—that we’re reaching the “bottom of the bag”—we will be very selective when we give it out. However, if we are aware of God’s overwhelming abundance and infinite nature, we will be eager to give it out at every turn, because we know that our hands can never be emptied of the riches of heaven.
We all have a spiritual sweet tooth that longs for the overflowing riches of a relationship with the Father. Sometimes, we get “cavities” of fear or hopelessness that diminish the size of our dreams. Satan might even convince us that we need our hopes pulled out completely. But as we begin to give out of what we have—whether it’s a giving of love, of faith, of prayer, of service, or of money—the Holy Spirit fills the spaces, and instead puts a crown on the longing of our hearts.