Giving and Receiving
Some give freely and still get richer, while others are stingy but grow still poorer. The person who blesses others will prosper; he who satisfies others will be satisfied himself. (Proverbs 11:24,25)
Throughout Scripture, TaNaKh and the Apostolic Scriptures, we are commanded to give to others in need. However, very little is said about receiving. I wish to explore both these aspects of our relationship with others. First – giving.
The action of giving to those in need is a fundamental aspect of righteousness; indeed, Torah tells us, in Exodus 35:29, the impetus for giving comes from Yahweh. Notice how Israel was motivated to give what they had to the building of the Tabernacle – Thus every man and woman of the people of Isra’el whose heart impelled him to contribute to any of the work Adonai had ordered through Moshe brought it to Adonai as a voluntary offering. As well, in Luke 12:33,34, Adonai Yeshua guides our tzedakah, righteous giving: Sell what you own and do tzedakah — make for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, riches in heaven that never fail, where no burglar comes near, where no moth destroys. For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also.
Clearly and unequivocally, giving to others is a behaviour which pleases Yahweh and is part of His expectations for our good works. But what about receiving?
Curiously, there is very little written in Scripture concerning receiving and what is mentioned is done so within the context of giving. For example, in Malachi 3:10 we find – Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test,” says Adonai-Tzivaot.
“See if I won’t open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs. And in Luke 6:38, Adonai Yeshua’s words ring out: Give, and you will receive gifts — the full measure, compacted, shaken together and overflowing, will be put right in your lap. For the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure back to you. Possibly the most poignant reference to receiving may be found in Matthew 6:31-33, wherein Adonai Yeshua teaches us – So don’t be anxious, asking, ‘What will we eat?’ ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘How will we be clothed?’ For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. What may we glean from these verses, both in TaNaKh and the Apostolic Scriptures? What we receive comes from God, either directly from Him, in a miraculous way, or through the generous giving of others. This imperative is enclosed in the teachings of the ancient sages, as we read in Mishna 3: Do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you.
How many times I have heard people, who are obviously in need, reply to me question, “How may I help you?”, with I don’t need any help, thank you. Perhaps this is true or perhaps there is pride blocking a request for help. Often the Holy Spirit of the Living God prompts me to ask this question. Why is it people, often believers, have a difficulty outlining their needs? Do they think this is a sign of weakness? Is there a fear of violating an implied command, found in Acts 20:35, when Rav Sha’ul teaches, In everything I have given you an example of how, by working hard like this, you must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Yeshua himself, ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving’?
Yes, there is more happiness in giving than in receiving; however, when we have needs, which we cannot satisfy ourselves, we are given the freedom of going to Yahweh, even though He knows our needs before we do. Then, when He sends others to us to ask, “How may I help you?”, are we acting in His will or in opposition?
CONSIDER: Do you believe there is a conscription against asking others for help? Do you feel it is a sign of personal weakness, to rely on others, when you have a felt need which cannot be satisfied?