Day 2: Openhanded
Freely you have received; freely give.
Matthew 10:8 NIV
We are a people obsessed with storing our things. Yesterday as my husband and I drove past a new area of a community not far from us, I made a comment about the new climatized storage buildings going up.
What is it people store that needs air conditioning and heat? I asked him.
Look, I know there are things we want to take care of, art or possessions the Texas summer heat would destroy. And storage buildings have their purpose, especially when you need a temporary place to store items between a move. But I can’t help thinking, If we are storing our precious things in a building we aren’t living in and don’t see, what’s the point?
Our stuff isn’t the only thing we store up. We build massive portfolios and bank accounts to get us through retirement to death. We store food just in case an emergency keeps us locked in our homes for weeks. We collect valuables we might sell at a later date if we need too, but we never do.
Please, don’t be offended and don’t get me wrong. We are called to be good stewards of what God has given us, but we are not called to hoard and save to take care of ourselves at the expense of others.
It scared me when I first began thinking this way and bothered me even more when I considered all the “stuff” I was storing. Over the past few years I’ve been purging. Letting go of things, some really special to me. It wasn’t easy at first, but after a while I experienced the freedom letting go and giving away brings.
I am blessed to be a blessing, to open my hands wide and allow others to take and use what He has freely given me.
Approaching the church, blinker blinking to turn into the parking lot, I saw it. A vision.
A large open hand, palm up, gold coins falling into it. No visible source for the bounty falling, just coins falling into an open hand. Some coins stayed and piled in the hand, others tumbled off, bounced out. But no matter what happened to the coins in the hand, they continued to fall from above.
It struck me in a flash. This was a picture of openhanded living. The way the church, both corporate and individual, is supposed to live. Because when the hand closes on what it has, the coins continue to fall but they never get into the hand to be used. A closefisted life misses out on blessings. Blessings of receiving and giving.
We’ve seen God as the ultimate Giver of life, and the motivation to give Him our hearts: We belong to Him. But what about our stuff? our time? our energy? It’s one thing to say you give yourself to Him, to give Him your heart, your affection, but He doesn’t really have your heart unless you give Him use of all you have and are. Which, by the way, aren’t actually yours either.
Read John 3:27
What does John the Baptizer say about what any person receives?
Everything we have is a gift from God. Not just Believers, but all people. Nobody has anything except what God has given. You may want to argue, I worked really hard for what I have! It was not given to me. We ask you to consider for a moment: Who gave you the means by which you earn? save? work? Where did your talents come from? And most basic of all: Who gives you your next heartbeat?
Read 1Corinthians 4:7
Paul asks a series of Spirit-inspired rhetorical questions to the Corinthian church. Even though he didn’t expect an answer, we do. Answer his questions below.
Everything is a gift from the Giver.
Read Matthew 5:43-45
What does God give? Who does He give it to?
What is the motivation behind His giving?
Love is God’s motive for giving to both His enemies and His children who love Him in return. When God opens His hands to His creation, all are filled with good things and are satisfied (Psalm 104:28, Psalm 145:15-16).
As His followers, we too are called to live openhanded lives because of His great love. Just like He deserves our hearts, He also deserves access to everything we’ve received from Him.
What keeps you from living an openhanded life? What do you close your fist around?
Closefisted living has two primary roots: fear and greed.
Fear of scarcity tells us there isn’t enough. It’s rooted in unbelief, God will not provide what is needed.
Read Luke 12:22-31
What does Jesus want us to look at to prove Father God will provide for all our needs?
What are we unable to add to our lives?
What does He say about those who worry over the material things of the world?
What is the way of ensuring our needs will be met by God?
Jesus tells us to look at God’s generous provision for the animal and plant life He created. They don’t have storehouses or closets stuffed with clothes. They live moment by moment trusting Him with what they need. They never say to themselves, I can’t give that away, I may need it someday.
Holding on to things we don’t need, waiting for the rainy day, implies God will not provide what we need when we need it. To continue to grasp something tightly when you see someone else could benefit from what you have is evidence of micro-faith. Faith-full living gives big and trusts God to deliver at the right time.
Instead of seeking to make ourselves secure with reserve supplies, Jesus says to seek His Father’s Kingdom. When we do, we will not lack a thing. Only the worldly run after what God will graciously provide when we trust Him and seek to be a part of His Kingdom, even while we live on earth.
Those with little faith, afraid of not having enough, run the risk of becoming greedy. Greed can be based in fear of scarcity or it can be grounded in the full-blown desire to live for self.
Read Luke 12:16-21
How many times does the rich man use the word “my”? What was his primary focus?
What did God call him?
Living solely for self is a foolish way to live. Storing up for our own needs rather than seeing the needs of others around us makes us very poor toward God. A rich relationship with God comes from an openhanded heart. Seeing everything as a gift and offering it back to Him for His use, rather than our own.
Read Luke 12:32-34
What does our Father want to give us? Why?
How do we store up eternal treasures in heaven?
The way to build a lasting treasure, which can’t be stolen or destroyed, is to fill up our heavenly purses by getting rid of our stuff and giving to those in need. The things we treasure most – possessions or people – reveals who or what we’ve given our hearts to.
When our eyes open to God’s bountiful giving in our lives and His love, not only for us but the whole world, our hearts and hands begin to open like His. Freely receiving. Freely giving.
Talk It Out
Talk it over with yourself:
How do you feel about the things you’ve worked for? saved? earned? Do you believe they are yours to do with what you will?
What is your first response to living completely openhanded? making everything you have available to God for His use? Why?
Talk it over with God:
Thank God today for all He has given you: life, breath, salvation, talents, gifts, home, family, His Word, His life (and whatever else comes to mind). Ask Him to open your hands and heart to freely receive all He has for you, and keep them open to be ready to freely give.
Freely you have received; freely give.
Matthew 10:8 NIV
Exercise Your Faith
Today, whenever you find yourself gripping something in your hand, take a moment (if physically possible without dropping it) to let it lay on your open hand. Offer it to God for His use.
Lord, _______________ is a gift from You. I offer it back to You today for Your use.
If you have trouble giving what you were holding back to God, ask Him what keeps you from releasing it to Him. Be open to hearing His answer.
Remember our reflection exercise this week is to emphasize different words in the Scripture. Today the word is blessed. Say the Scripture out loud emphasizing the word.
And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 20:35b NKJV
Does it sound different? What thoughts begin to form as you say it this way?
Blessed… What blessings come to mind? What has God given you? How have others blessed you?
Are you storing your blessings? Or giving them freely?
What is God whispering to you in this time of reflection?