Summary: When we look back on all of the gifts that have freely been bestowed upon us by God we clearly see richness, yet how freely are we giving it away? I believe that Jesus desires that we not hoard these gifts, but give them away...
How many of you know what it is like to have a kid coming up to you asking for candy? I had Pastor Adam and Emi’s kids Harry and Jordan in my office the other day wanting a lolly. How do you look into the faces of those cute kids and say, ‘no’? You can’t. I opened up my drawer and gave them each a candy. It took Jordan about 5 minutes to come back into my office wanting more. No matter how old you get in this life there are aspects of this behavior that will never change. We will always be wanting or in need of something. We all have someone that we go to when we really need something, be that mom and dad, family, friends or God. What I want to speak with you about this morning is the position of your hands. When you ask for something from someone, something you don’t have and need from them your hands are like this (open handed). After receiving something you have 2 options; you can leave them open or you can close them. Each of these responses has blessings or consequences attached to them. We have all been recipients of the most precious gifts on the face of the earth, what are we doing with them?
In our text this morning Jesus is sending out the disciples to do ministry. Their task was relatively simple; to go and share the Kingdom message of Jesus and his return, to go and heal the sick, raise the dead, bring healing, restoration and hope. Jesus finishes it with this statement, “Give as freely as you have received!” That is an interesting way to finish things off. I believe that this was Jesus reminding them that they had done nothing to earn or deserve this power being bestowed on them. They did nothing to merit the hope in their hearts, healing, restoration, salvation or newness of life. When you start thinking about it, all of these revolutionary and vital things were freely given to us because we were in need. How dare we keep them to ourselves when they were so freely given to us. The danger or temptation we face is wanting to keep these things for our own, as our own.
Let me help visualize this for you. We turn to God with hands outstretched and open. We need what only God can give. Once He lovingly places it in our hands we then turn and close our hands, greedily keeping these free gifts for ourselves. There are consequences to this type of behaviour.
1. You rob yourself of enjoying the gifts
What God has given us was never meant to be hidden or kept. Everything we read in the Bible tells us that we were given to give. When we do this we allow God to work through us in ways we never imagined. In doing this we enjoy the gifts that we graciously given to us. If you hoard them they cease to have purpose. They become meaningless trophies for selfish benefit. This leads to wickedness as Jesus described in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25).
2. You deny others the experience of the goodness of God
When you share the gifts God has given you others can experience God through you and your experience. This becomes proof to those who do not know Him that He is real and relevant, not only for us, but for them too. When you close your hands on what God has given you deny people this life changing experience. You are not exhibiting the character traits of your Lord and Savior who gave up so much, even while we were his enemy, so that we might know God personally. “For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:13-15
3. You cut yourself off from receiving
As described in the parable of the sheep and the goats I believe that if you choose a closed handed life then you cut yourself of from receiving the most important gift, heaven. For not giving as you were so freely given you will be cast out of the presence of God, which is a harsh statement, but true none the less. (read Matthew 25:41-45)
There is however another, much more appropriate action that you can do that carries with it the blessings of the Lord. If we can manage to learn the kind of giving that God has displayed throughout history then we will not only know Him more, not only will we be blessed, but many others will come to know Him as we do. Our goal has to become one of transference. As we have been given so we give. Our hands are to forever remain in the open position.