“Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
Freedom is the connection between God’s love and man’s sin. When He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose—to obey or disobey, His love was so great that He did not want them, or us, to be robots, incapable of making our own choices. He gave mankind freedom to do right or wrong, even if it meant saying no to the God who created us.
Paul quoted the words of Christ in Acts 20:35 when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” but we seem to forget that receiving is just as essential as giving. Yes, love is about giving, but as someone has said, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Jesus says in Matthew 10:8 that freely we have received, therefore we are to “freely give.”
Paul also made it clear to the Philippians that “in the matter of giving and receiving” he was not looking for a gift, but he saw their giving as spiritual dividends they would receive (Philippians 4:15, 17). By giving, they were also receiving.
The cycle of love begins with God’s giving and our receiving. Then, as we give to others from what we have received, He receives it as a gift to Himself—we do it as unto Him (Matthew 25:40). Then miraculously, He credits it to our heavenly account and meets all our needs “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
After all, what do we have that we did not receive from God? Absolutely nothing! Moreover, everything we have we received from Him. Here are just a few: compassion and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3); eternal life (1Timothy 1:16); forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43); grace (Romans 1:5); the Holy Spirit (John 20:22); mercy (2 Corinthians 4:1); and strength (Colossians 1:11).
In God’s equation of love—as we understand His perfect love for us and begin to see that our own cup is not only full, but overflowing, then we can look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. We find it much easier to give when we begin to see all that God has freely given to us.
Freedom is the God-given ability to love
Without being loved in return,
To give and not receive,
To be cheerful when all hope is gone,
To serve those who hate you most,
To care when all tenderness is gone,
To be kind when revenge is tearing your heart,
To be peaceful when storms arise,
To be honest when there is injustice,
To love with the wonderful love of Jesus.
–Paula Toman (13), Ontario, Canada