THE LAW OF GIVE & TAKE
GIVE GOD'S BLESSINGS - OR BE A DEAD SEA
Getting God's blessings and not giving them out spells death. A classic example of this fact is the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the deepest hole on earth. It descends 1286 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. It is forty-six miles long and ten miles wide.
How much water flows into this sea? Over four million tons of fresh water each day. How much flows out of Dead Sea? NONE!
Because it has no outflow, it has become nine times more salty than the ocean. The water level stays the same because the waters evaporate under the sun's heat. Because of the salt and mineral density, no fish swim there, few plants grow there, and even birds rarely fly over the face of the Dead Sea because they find little or no food. The Dead Sea is a geographic parable that cries, "Give out what you take in!"
WE MAY DISCOVER THE SAME PROBLEM IN US!
The problem of the Dead Sea is often the problem we may discover in ourselves. We hear the Gospel preached in our churches, over radio, and on television and we read exciting Christian books. Yet, if we do not yield ourselves to Christ, spreading the Gospel world-wide, we tend to get stagnant in spirit, and thus, grieve the Holy Spirit.
THE PRINCIPLE OF GETTING AND GIVING
To take in and not give out causes bodily and spiritual obesity and laziness. To give out more than one takes in causes exhaustion and restlessness. This principle of getting and giving applies to many aspects of our lives. It applies to the amount we eat and the energy we use. For instance, when a man with a desk job eats like a ditch digger but doesn't dig any ditches, he is playing a dangerous game with his health.
The spiritual body of Christ is based on the same laws of health as the body of each of us. Its health or disease is traced back to the same simple law - we not only receive in order to live, but we also live to give and serve.
THE BLOOD THAT FLOWS IN OUR BODY
The principle of getting and giving is the message of the five quarts of lifeblood that flows in our body. The constant flow of blood is a vital job of our hearts. The heart receives blood through the veins and pumps it out through the arteries.
The lungs work together with the heart in this constant interchange of life. The lungs receive more oxygen than the blood and share it with the blood. The blood in turn shares it with the body tissue. The red blood cells work without rest in the veins and arteries. They work themselves to death doing their life work. They use up their own energy in about four months. About two ounces of our blood are used up each day of our adult lives. Meanwhile, the marrow of our bones keeps making more blood to restore the daily loss.
RECEIVE FREELY, GIVE FREELY!
Our blood is a miracle substance that points to the principle, "Receive freely. Give freely."
The Apostle Paul expresses this law of interdependence in the body of Christ when, in effect, he said to the Corinthians, "The fact is there are many parts, but only one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' God has harmonized the whole body by giving importance to the parts which lack apparent importance, that the body should work together as a whole with all the members in sympathetic relationship with one another (1 Cor. 12).
As we go on in our Christian life, we find that there are promises and possibilities of grace that we can receive from God. We hear the Good News of victorious life in Christ, of our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. We not only can hear these truths, but we can receive and rejoice in these gifts of God.
It does not take long, however, to realize that just to get these blessings is to be a kind of "Dead Sea" personality, getting but not giving.
THE HOSE AND THE FAUCET
A teacher friend of mine was speaking about the value of a positive, outgoing life and how such a life can be a great secret of inner purity and power. He used the common garden hose to get his point across. He said, "You know that when a hose is attached to the faucet and the water is not turned on, if the hose is thrown down into a muddy puddle, the muddy water will go into the hose. "But," he added, "if you turn on the water, the force of the water surging through the hose will drive out the muddy water and none of it can get in."
In the Christian life, like the hose, we must receive the inflow of the life of Christ, but the outflow is necessary so that wrong influences are kept out. One preacher called this flow of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life, "The expulsive power of a new affection."
SHARING OUR FAITH IS THE SECRET OF ASSURANCE AND GROWTH
Even in the conversion of the soul, when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior we must not keep our faith to ourselves. Sharing our faith is the secret of assurance and growth.
A friend of mine went to a morning service in a Lutheran church. The pastor preached the Gospel and appealed to anyone there who had not repented and received Christ, that they should obey the Lord that day. Soon after the service my friend went to his room and asked the Lord to forgive his sin and to come into his heart. He thought, "I don't feel any different, but I asked him to be my Lord and Savior and I believe His Word."
At the evening service the pastor asked for testimonies from the congregation. My friend, as he sat there without any special feeling or no feeling, decided that feeling or no feeling, he would confess Christ publicly. He stood and said, "I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I thank Him for His forgiveness and I want to serve Him."
As soon as he sat down, he later told me, a sense of joy and assurance filled his heart. The Holy Spirit "bore witness with his spirit" that he was a child of God. He had obeyed the words, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
THE HOLY SPIRIT UNCOVERS THE SELF-LIFE
How was this verse proved in the experience of my friend? When he was kneeling in his room, he received Jesus Christ, by faith, but in the evening service, he expressed his faith. He gave out his confession and then the blessing of salvation became real and clear.
After we become Christians the Holy Spirit uncovers the self-life and teaches us the meaning of the Cross. Why? Because uncrucified self hinders the blessing of God. The new self that is alive to God is a channel for God's blessing. If the victorious life means anything, it means that we are freed from a self-centered life. The Apostle Paul defined it in II Cor. 5:15, "He (Chirst) died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him," which means that the Cross of Christ strikes the death-blow to the self-confined life.
Besides this, Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit so that we can be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth."
When the Holy Spirit came to the early church, the Christians began to share the Gospel fearlessly. It made them say, like Peter to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:…" (Acts 3:6). The sudden miracle of healing was by the Holy Spirit of Giving.
A FINAL WORD
Just a final work that sums up all we have said. The Apostle Paul used these words of Christ to exhort the Ephesians elders. How simple and yet profound they are: "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
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