Friday, July 1, 2011

"Giving and Receiving"

     We generally receive what we give in our relationships with others.  There are notable exceptions, of course, and we are always prepared for times when our good is rewarded with evil.  The prevailing course of our lives nevertheless reveals the Divine principle of "Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38).

    This truth greatly challenges our natural understanding and inclinations, particularly when we are dissatisfied with how people are relating to us.  The world, the devil and the flesh tempt us to focus on the failures, slights and grievances of others.  We may ignore the possibility that we are receiving, in negative terms, what we have given (or have not given).  This is especially true in the very close bonds of family and friendship wherein frequent contact and association provide much opportunity to offend and be offended.  If our primary consideration involves what we are receiving rather than what we are giving, the problem may well lie with us.

    "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent" (Philippians 1:9-10).

    As the Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians, we do well to personally seek God's leading and enabling whereby we wisely abound in His love toward others.  The most important aspect of such guidance will redirect our attention from how others relate to us toward how we relate to them.  Indeed, even in times where we are wrongly treated, the primary issue for us is our own response.  Are our attitudes and actions the reaction to our offender, or to the Holy Spirit?  We are greatly tempted by the former.  Greater still is the moving and power of the indwelling Christ in believers to enable responses that reflect His character rather than our natural fleshly inclinations to dwell on the offences of others (I John 4:4).

    Again, we generally get what we give in our relationships with others.  There are few greater Scriptural challenges, and few greater Scriptures assurances of blessing.  We must consistently trust and submit ourselves to God in order to know what we are to give, and also to know how to respond to what we receive in times of both peace and conflict.  Such truth keeps our hearts in peace because it maintains our primary focus on the Lord Jesus rather than upon ourselves and others.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."

(Matthew 5:43-45)

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