“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 (New Living Translation)
What picture comes to mind as you read these words?
“Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.” (New Century Version)
Right or wrong, the illustration that I see upon reading these words of Jesus comes right out of my family’s Spring Break trip. To Las Vegas. I see someone (hopefully me!) seated at a slot machine, only it’s the old-fashioned kind where you actually use coins, and she’s hit the JACKPOT! Pouring out of the machine is a river of quarters, and she’s having to use her lap to catch them because they’re coming out so fast.
Now, what Jesus is referring to is of course NOT a gamble, but a guaranteed jackpot!
When we give to others out of our abundance and giftedness, unlike my usual experience at the slot machine, we receive. Jesus says we will receive our gift, returned to us in full. We will be given much. The way we give is the way God will give to us.
One of my study resources (The Spirit Filled Life Study Bible) says it this way:
“There is a universal law of divine reciprocity. You give; God gives in return. When you plant a seed, the ground yields a harvest. That is a reciprocal relationship. The ground can only give to you as you give to the ground. You put money in the bank, and the bank returns interest. That is reciprocity.”
The difficulty comes in, however, when we want something for nothing when it comes to the things of God.
Think about your prayer-life for a moment. How often are our prayers filled with requests? How balanced are our pleas for help with praise for the help we’ve already received? How many times do we pray for God to do something in a situation where there is something that WE CAN DO to help?
Have you ever thought that maybe God is waiting on you to answer your own prayer before He steps in?
We regularly pray, “God, come to the rescue!” while failing to rescue those who are right there in front of us, within arm’s reach. If this idea of divine reciprocity has any credence, and if Jesus was serious about our giving triggering God’s giving, I’ve got some serious evaluating to do – of my thoughts and actions.
Think about your investments for a moment. Not your financial investments, but your time, talent and passion investments. Maybe even grab your calendar and consider what your time and energy commitments say about your Kingdom investments.
Be cautioned: this could easily turn into an exercise in “works,” which is not the point! Your salvation is established in the work of the cross, in Christ’s own investment in the Kingdom. Your calendar can’t affect what has already been done on your behalf – a gift given to rescue YOU that simply cannot be repaid. Don’t even go there. Keep tracking with me…
You don’t receive a bumper crop without planting and tending to your garden, right?
And you don’t receive a return on your investment without first investing your resources.
If your life feels empty and your prayers seem to get lost in space, maybe it’s time to think literally about what Jesus is saying here. After all, if physical prosperity begins with investment, it sounds as if spiritual prosperity works much the same way. Pay attention to God’s Spirit (it’ll be that still, small voice – so listen carefully). Look at your abundance and the gifts that you’ve been given.
Unused and under-invested, your time, energy and resources may be YOURS, but what good does that do in the Kingdom of God?
God is looking for reciprocals that He can work with to further His Kingdom in this world.
Now, I’m not a mathematician, but I’m all for claiming truth where I find it. Thinking of reciprocity in this way is going to literally blow your mind.
Reciprocal Numbers: Mathematics describes a number or quality that is related to another by the fact that, when multiplied together, the product is ONE. (For example, 4 and ¼ are reciprocals.)
Read that a few times and let it sink in.
God is looking for a relationship with us where, when we offer up our unique qualities and gifts to be multiplied together with HIS generosity and power, WE BECOME ONE. One with Him in service. One with Him in action. We become ONE with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
In our one-ness, we share fully in all of His riches and blessings and abundance, because we are… ONE. Together.
In the world’s system, the return for our investments is ours – to deposit, use or reinvest as we see fit. In this Kingdom formula, God guarantees a return. And this return gets caught up in the product itself, producing unity and creating an overflow of blessing that can’t be contained as it spills over into our laps, into our lives, and into the lives of others.
Now that’s an equation that makes sense to me.