Devotional: Giving and Receiving

“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 (NLT)

As a pastor’s kid, I’ve heard my share of worship talks and sermons.  Whenever I read this verse, I remember a worship talk he gave at my elementary school once.  It involved pouring a whole lot of water into a container until it flooded the container, the bowl, and spilled onto the floor.  We learned that by giving liberally, we receive liberally–even more than we gave.

As volunteers, this verse might be confusing sometimes in the context of a very heavy season of giving. We may pour our money into a project, or pour our heart and soul into a person in need, but it seems like a one-way street.  We give—and then it’s gone.

But recently I’ve been learning that we often do not receive from the same place we gave. God may use an acquaintance to be a listening ear at the right time; He may send money through a stranger; provide encouragement or a smile through a student who is usually difficult.  Most importantly, when looking for this promise to be fulfilled, we will be better off if we let go of our expectations that a person or a mission project owes us or should give us some kind of blessing in return for all of our giving.  That may or may not happen, and if we keep looking for it, we might find ourselves on a path to burn-out.  Instead, we need to go to the ultimate Giver—Jesus.  When we’re on empty, we come to Him in dependence, often in desperation, and He provides in His own way and time.

Yes, there are dry seasons.  It might take some waiting until we see our gift “returned in full.” But it will come.  He will come.  To keep giving, spend time with the Giver, and don’t be surprised when you find some blessings spilling over onto your lap.

*Once or twice a month, the Office of Volunteer Ministries sends a short devotional thought to our volunteers around the world.  

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