The world is populated by two types of people: those who trust Jesus for their salvation and those who don’t. But within those two groups are the two subgroups of givers and takers.
Givers are especially good at giving and not so good at taking. Takers are especially good at taking and not so good at giving. Takers are drawn to givers. Givers are programmed to embrace takers, but they eventually are conditioned to run for their lives as they sense their souls about to be sucked dry.
I am a giver. I delight in blessing people around me. It brings me joy. My loved ones recognize that and have stopped giving me gift cards to stores where I will buy craft supplies I can use to create things to give away. I dislike that plan very much.
When my youngest son was born prematurely and my father-in-law died a week after my son’s due date, we received meals for eight weeks from our tiny church. It was a very humbling experience for me. But I believe the people who blessed me were people who recognized my propensity for giving. They wanted to give back. This was a good thing all around.
Over the years, I – like so many of you – have been a magnet to takers. For a long time, I just viewed it as ministry: I would pour myself out for the sake of pointing someone to Christ or strengthening someone in Christ. But in certain seasons of my life (particularly when my kids were young), takers hung on me like so many leeches to the point that I would enter into a drama avoidance mode. (If I ran when I saw you coming, you may now know why.)
But life involves give and take. Often we must give, and sometimes we must take. The problem is balance.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
A key verb in that verse is “gave.” If we are called to emulate Christ, and we are, then we are called to be givers.
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” – Matthew 5:42
“For God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7b
But givers are sometimes hesitant to receive not because of the joy they experience in giving but because they are too proud and self-sufficient to accept a blessing. Such arrogance is an affront to God.
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – James 4:6
If we refuse to receive, we spurn God’s grace and even salvation itself.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never receive it.” – Mark 10:15
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12
Examine your relationships, and examine your very heart. (Pray the words of Psalm 26:2: Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.) If you are a giver, what is the motive of your giving? Is is an overflow of the heart? A desire to reflect the beauty and grace of Christ? Is it pride? Is it a desire to bring glory to yourself? If God reveals your nature as a taker, is this a seasonal symptom or a chronic condition?
Either way, if you’re living an imbalanced life, are you resting fully in God’s grace and walking in obedience to Him? Are you reflecting His character? Here’s a litmus test for you:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . . ” – Philippians 2:3-5
To you takers out there, find someone from whom you have taken much and, if that person doesn’t run and hide at your approach, give her a blessing in return. To you givers, allow yourself to experience the blessing you have so often poured out to others. It’s a humbling thing, but remember it’s the humble who receive God’s favor, and that’s the one thing I can take in abundance.