Is there anything in your life that you would give absolutely everything to? Can you even imagine such a thing? There used to be a time when I felt like I could absolutely give myself to whatever I set my heart to. My heart was disciplined to Love and my belief was that I had to give freely to others what I felt God had given to me. And so this is what I did to the best of my ability. But somewhere along the way I began to skim some Love off of the top. I stopped giving everything. I became an embezzler of sorts. Rather than giving grace where I received grace, I started wanting people to prove in some way that they were “getting it”. I wanted to know that I was not giving in vain.
I started feeling like I was not being valued and in some cases I began convincing myself that I was the “good guy” in certain situations. I started feeling like I was tired of being the “bigger man” or beating myself up to try to figure out what lesson I was supposed to be learning from some of the experiences I was going through. So for the most part I just stopped giving everything I had unless I had reason to believe there was reasonable chance of reciprocation.
Now, I understand that this way of determining when and when not to give from your heart is probably status quo for most people. But when I don’t give as freely as I received, I feel like a thief. And, when I hold back from sharing with others the truth as I understand it, I feel like a liar. Yeah, that might sound a little extreme, but that’s how it is. That is the truth.
Every one of us has been the recipient of some expression of grace. Maybe we weren’t paying attention to it or don’t really have a frame of reference to know when we’ve benefited from it, but it is happening constantly. For example, I was once in a car accident where I was uninsured and would have had to pay for the damages out-of-pocket. But then a neighbor, who happened to own an auto body shop, fixed the vehicle for free. All he required of me was to make better decisions. That was grace. From there, my job was to pass it on.
Now ask yourself how many times someone has shown you grace and yet when you were in the position to do the same, you held back? It can be something as simple as letting a person pass you on a road or holding a door for someone. It doesn’t matter how big or small the act is, the essence of giving grace is the same. Personally, I have been holding back for some years now. I made the mistake of feeling sorry for myself some time back and since then, I have not given everything I could to everyone I could. I pause, I hesitate, I miss the moment time and again. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to calculate whether it is worth it. Sometimes, it is because I am concerned that the person on the other end is going to misinterpret my intentions. Sometimes it’s because I think that the grace is mine to give and I am just choosing not to give it. In every instance I am wrong because grace was never mine to keep.
Luke 6:34-36 (New King James Version)
34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons (children) of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Before I go any further, let me explain that the purpose of this is not to bring about any unhealthy sense of guilt. Rather, my purpose is to share a realization that I’m applying to my life more fully day by day. I realized that when I hold back I am not just stealing from others, but from myself as well. If I don’t give myself fully, then I will never know the fullness of my being. Being conscious of this, I owe it to myself just as much as I owe it to others to stop holding back.
Imagine if the sun held back its light or if the trees decided to not give their oxygen. Where would we be? I realized that what God has given us to share, is meant to give life just as much as these. The difference with us is that we let past hurts and disappointments rob us of our gifts and in turn we rob those who can be blessed by what we have to offer the world.
Matthew 5:14-16 (New King James Version)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
I know that some people may be thrown off from all of the Christian talk and words like sinner, but don’t be. Instead of looking for reasons to be offended, look for reasons to shine. Sin is just an archery term that means to miss the mark. It’s just like attempting to make a free throw and missing the shot. Missing the shot is not the offense. We fall short when we make excuses for not taking the shot in the first place. Take it from someone who knows.
Well, anyway, since I’m being honest with you, I’ll ask you to ignore the fact that I can’t think of a smooth transition or a climactic ending for this post. All I can think to say to those of you who read this is that you are Loved and come from Love. I have no idea how so many of us got convinced that we are unworthyof the Love that Loved us into being. But I am going to give my energies to helping people drop that lie. The Jesus I know in my heart teaches a Love that knows no bounds. If I say otherwise, then I really am a liar and a thief. If a message comes to me to share, I am going to put it out there no matter how unrefined it is. Hopefully some of you will do the same.
I have about thirty or so blogs that I have been holding back because I was concerned about how they would be received. In honesty I was mostly nervous about offending my fellow Christians because I know that a lot of us don’t realize that God is bigger than religion and our interpretations. The way I see it, God belongs to all people and all people belong to God. That’s why Jesus connected the love and God and our neighbor as like commandments.
Mark 12:29-31 (New King James Version)
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Any interpretation that doesn’t foster this keeps us from shining and makes us thieves and liars no matter what religion we profess. It really is time for us to focus more on what unites us than what divides us and to give as freely as we have received. Let’s finally really give Love a chance. God knows that we’ve tried everything else.