God set up a simple system called ‘seedtime and harvest’ or ‘giving and receiving’, but in order of it to work proficiently, we must follow the whole process and not just parts of it. You can be the most generous giver in the world, but you also need to be a good receiver – it is all part of the process.
What would you have done?
Remember the time when Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17? Elijah was instructed not just to receive from her, but to actively ask her to give to him! It wasn’t like God had sent Elijah to a rich woman either, this was a woman who didn’t even have enough to feed herself and her son, and Elijah was supposed to go up to her and ask her to feed him, before she fed her family. Today’s media would have probably reported the story as something like:
BREAKING NEWS: So called ‘Man of God’, Elijah, demands food from starving widow – more to follow
What would you have done? Would you have gone without food yourself, rather than taking anything from this destitute woman? Let alone actually asking her to give?!?!? Rather than recognising the prompting of the Holy Spirit, would you have quietly muttered, “Get thee behind me Satan, I don’t care if I’m hungry – I am not asking that woman for food“? If so, you would probably also have felt rather pleased with yourself because of how humble and pious you’d been. However, the end result would have been that the woman and her son would have died. It is easy to claim that we would have acted exactly like Elijah, because we have the advantage of hindsight, we know how what happened next – but would we really? Religious thinking wants to tell us that we should give to the poor and receive from the rich, but it is important never to make assumptions about God’s will. Just because a person is poorer than you, doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to receive from them; and likewise, just because a person is richer than you, doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to give to them. God’s channel of provision for Elijah at that time was the widow woman, and if Elijah had ignored that channel he would have gone without food.
We need to get over the whole false humility thing when it comes to receiving.
Not only that, but in refusing to take anything from the poor widow, Elijah would have denied her the blessing that God had planned for her. He would have denied her the harvest that should have been hers, and in all probably, the widow and son would have died. Of course that isn’t what happened, look at the result of both Elijah and the widow woman being obedient: “Thus saith Jehovah the God of Israel: The meal in the barrel shall not waste, neither shall the oil in the cruse fail, until the day that Jehovah sendeth rain upon the face of the earth! And she went and did according to the word of Elijah; and she, and he, and her house, ate a whole year. The meal in the barrel did not waste, neither did the oil in the cruse fail, according to the word of Jehovah which he had spoken through Elijah” (1 Kings 17:14-16, Darby translation). We need to get over the whole false humility thing when it comes to receiving: “Oh, I couldn’t possibly accept that…..“. We have all said things like that before and thought that we were being humble in so doing. NEWSFLASH: YOU WERE NOT BEING HUMBLE!!! What you were doing was denying someone the opportunity to sow into your life and telling God that you didn’t want His blessings.
Nowhere does it say that we should give, but not receive.
Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Which tells us two things:
- It is a blessing to receive.
- We should not deny others the blessing of giving.
What Acts 20:35 is not saying is that we should be always giving, but never receiving – but that is the way many Christians understand it though. Nowhere does it say that we should give, but not receive; and how could it, when the Bible makes it clear that we are supposed to gratefully receive everything that God has for us? Look at 1 Kings 10:10 from the Good News Translation, “[The Queen of Sheba] presented to King Solomon the gifts she had brought: almost five tons of gold and a very large amount of spices and jewels. The amount of spices she gave him was by far the greatest that he ever received at any time“. Did King Solomon say to the Queen of Sheba that he had enough already and couldn’t possible accept her gifts? No of course he didn’t! Solomon’s wisdom was unsurpassed and he knew how to receive God’s blessings.
What about Mary and Joseph?
What about Mary and Joseph? The Bible records how the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Did Mary and Joseph accept, or refuse the wise men’s gifts: “Oh thank you very much, but we couldn’t possibly accept that“? The answer is, of course, that they accepted what was given. The gold in particular was God’s provision for them – they certainly did not just put it on a shelf somewhere. In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them“. This cannot happen however, if we constantly refuse to accept what people want to give us. Refusing when people want to give you something is not called humility, it is called cutting off a channel of God’s provision.
The message in this article is simple – never look a gift horse in the mouth. Humbly receive from rich and poor alike. If you are poor, be willing to receive; and when you become rich, still be willing to receive, with humility – even if the giver has far less than you. Remember that this could be God’s way of getting their harvest to them – don’t be so selfish as to deny that person their harvest.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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