Recovery: It's a God Thing
Monday September 26, 2016
by Teresa McBean
Scripture Reading for today: Matthew 1 and 2; Ezekiel 21
Everyone has heard the phrase, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And what about the ever-popular, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Who can forget their childhood memories of parental instruction? “I said: share that with your brother!” I love the current commercial that shows two young brothers at snack time with only one slice of bread. Slathered with peanut butter (yum), both boys are concerned about who might get the “bigger” half. So TV-mom comes up with the perfect solution, one cuts the bread and the other brother chooses the first slice! Suffering from an obsession with all things peanut butter, I pay close attention when the choosing brother chooses his piece, and I am sure he gets a slightly larger portion!
In spite of biblical entreaties and parental instructions, most of us have a natural inclination that prefers receiving to giving! And although God loves a cheerful giver, an honest person must admit that most of us are at our most cheerful when we’re receiving something we really, really adore!
Until we have a supernatural encounter.
In Luke 19, there’s a guy named Zacchaeus who has acquired great wealth by colluding with his enemies (the Romans) and cheating his fellow citizens by dishonestly collecting taxes. Zacchaeus would have been hated by his community for this act of treason. I wonder if receiving all that loot eased his pain.
Evidently it did not. Because when Jesus entered Jericho, Zacchaeus went to great lengths just to get a look at him. Jesus responded by inviting himself to dinner at the home of Zacchaeus. Scripture reports that Zacchaeus was filled with excitement and great joy. Then he did an amazing thing. He made an amends–one that included generous restitution for all that he had taken.
Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:9-10 NLT
I know that every inclination of my heart is a desire to receive. Frankly, I believe that many of our efforts to give are tainted with an expectation of receiving something in return. I know this because scripture teaches this, and I’ve experienced the sting of its truth personally. As true as this may be, I refuse discouragement as a companion. Instead, I run hard, climb a tree, go to any lengths to get a peek at Jesus. Zacchaeus didn’t decide to make amends and then have Jesus choose to be his friend. First, Zacchaeus sought the face of Christ, and Christ turned to him. Christ loved him, accepted him for the greedy little man that he was, and gave him the strength to rise above his natural inclinations. I can hear the soft voice of Jesus calling to us, but not in condemnation or even correction. I hear His invitation, “Come to me, all of you who are weary (with your life of trying to make up for all that you lack) and carry heavy burdens (of all the things you’ve acquired at the expense of others), and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NLT