“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” That is a quote from Acts 20:35. It has been hammered into us for so many years that we tend to think it is a life principle. But is it true in every situation?
The reason I ask is that there are many Christians who seem to think it is more blessed to give to God than to receive from Him. They are more about what they are doing for Him than what He is doing for them. In fact, they have formed their religion around what they do for God and they expect to be blessed because of the things they do. Since it is more blessed to give than to receive, and they want to be blessed, they choose to focus on what they are giving.
Over the years I have heard about the “deals” people have made with God. ‘Me and the man upstairs, we have an understanding.” “I work for God and He works for me.” “I told the Lord I would do that for Him if He would do this for me.” Besides the fact that these “deals” seem pretty one-sided, they also put the person on an almost equal footing with God. In other words, they seem arrogant and presumptuous.
Now, most people don’t do this, at least most church people. But in their minds they still bargain. They still expect God to keep deals. I know this because I hear them express their disappointment with Him. They say things like, “I have tried to be faithful, to do what I was supposed to do, why couldn’t He do this for me?” Sometimes they are angry. Sometimes they feel betrayed. Sometimes they feel unloved. When they needed Him, God failed.
When we suggest that God has let us down, that we somehow deserve better from Him, or that He has failed to take into account our giving—we betray something of a flesh religion in our own hearts. When we blame God for our pain, we suggest that He is somehow responsible for making sure we get our way. We are in charge. He is the servant. He is our divine caregiver and He isn’t doing His work.
The flesh system we create as we go through life is all about us. It makes us look good, feel good, and get good. If spiritual blessings come through spiritual service, then we understand that we are supposed to work. And if we are supposed to work, we certainly want that work to be noticed. Even when it isn’t spoken, the deal system is implicit in the flesh religion.
Let me make this clear. The flesh system is all about giving because it sees giving as the way to getting.
But grace isn’t about what you give. It’s about what you get. God is the Giver because He loves you. God is the Giver because He doesn’t need what you can give. God is the Giver because you need what He can give. You are the one with the need and He is the one with the “everything.”
So grace is about getting and religion is about giving. Does that sound backwards to you? That’s okay. When you are able to rest and let God give to you, then you will begin to understand the truth. And that truth will set you free.