Full And Running Over
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus” most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount, is a beautiful message about Kingdom living. Those who trust in God, Jesus tells us, exhibit the life of God in their attitudes, actions, and relationships— in opposition to how the world normally works. He tells us to love those who don’t love us, to good to those who hurt us, and to give to those who can’t or won’t pay us back. It’s revolutionary stuff!
On an intensely personal level, Jesus gives four promises in the form of two “don’ts” and two “dos.” Don’t judge people and you won’t be judged, don’t condemn and you won’t be condemned, forgive and you’ll be forgiven, and give and you’ll receive. We often look at the promise of giving in isolation, but it’s in every aspect of Kingdom life.
Trusting God transforms us inside out. As our behavior toward others changes, He promises to pour- not trickle, not dab on, not squeeze out a drop or two- His blessings on us. Our trust in God’s ability to provide for us results in our giving generously to God and His causes. Then, God opens the storehouses of heaven to bless us. How much? Jesus couldn’t have been more expressive: It’s so much that it has to be packed in, and it still runs over the top!
If we are stingy, we won’t enjoy giving the little we give, and God withholds His abundant blessings. But if we give generously and joyfully, we’d better look out!
I can testify that the Lord is as good as His Word, that if we trust and believe and bring our tithes into the storehouse, He will pour out His blessings of all kinds, including financial.
One of the traditions of Christmas is gift-giving. Under decorated trees rests mounds of gifts, each carefully selected and joyfully given to those we cherish. Sometimes the ritual of gift-giving becomes the ends of the means and totally ignores the true meaning of gift-giving. So often those with plenty exchange presents with those who have plenty. And most of the time these gifts are monetary in nature-we go buy them.
What Christmas is about is giving out of love with nothing demanded in return. God was willing to give us His Son-that is if we want Him- without expecting a gift in kind. In truth, what could we give in comparison to that Gift?
What Jesus was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount was that the greatest gift we give cannot be bought at some market, it comes from our heart and in essence we give ourselves. And we give not to those who we know will be able or desire to give back to us some gift of equal value. It appears that God is pleased when we give gifts that are expensive. Oh, not in monetary value necessarily but nevertheless expensive gifts.
To give the gift of love is a great thing even when it’s given to those who love us in return. But to give the gift of love to those who don’t love, perhaps even hate us is a truly expensive gift. To give such a gift is way outside the parameters of “normal love.” Sometimes we struggle loving those who love us much less finding the grace to love those who don’t love us back or may even have hurt us in some way. It’s easy to talk about loving your neighbor until that neighbor acts in a way that makes them,,at least at that moment, unloveable. It’s easy to say that we need to love the people in the community, but quite another thing to actually do it. It’s not so hard to love those who are like us but what about loving those who are different from us? Jesus says that if we will give out the little love we currently have, we will receive the love of God in such a measure that it will overflow our hearts. And all this because we chose to give a little love to someone who may not “deserve” to be loved.
Jesus said that whatever we give: grace, mercy, love, kindness, or forgiveness; we will receive in return an overflowing abundance back. Those we love may not always return our love, but God will. Those whom we show mercy may themselves not be merciful but God will be generous in His mercy toward us. We may do acts of kindness to those who never appreciate them, but you can bet that God will appreciate it when you show kindness for that’s near to His heart.
The promise of receiving isn’t just in finances, although it certainly holds true with financial giving, it’s a promise about whatever we are willing to give from our hearts. Perhaps if you would do an inventory of your life and find there are areas in which you lack, it might be a good idea to decide to give away what you have. Once you choose to do so, trust the generous God to return back to you “full measure, pressed down, and running over.
Dr. John Thompson