The Give And Takeaway by Elizabeth Traub
There may be some who are offended by this note. If you are, perhaps it's really the convictions of your heart and the truths in which I share.
I have been overcome more these past few years with the amount of "taking" there is. Many reports, advertisements, TV, movies, magazines and headlines promote "It is about You", "You do deserve More", "Take it while you Can". There is a huge problem with this. An even greater one when I watch those takers take and take and take. This is for those who claim Christ and believe that the Word of God is the Way, the Truth , and the Life.
The Word of God states in a couple of the Ten Commandants:
Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol"
Exodus 20:15 "You shall not steal."
I have watched for several years, kept quiet, stewed, brewed and chased my thoughts in circles as to how to address this situation happening among my Christian brothers and sisters. It happens every single week, every single day, and often with a sense of entitlement which distorts and blurs the real heart of a situation.
Let me explain. A person is in a financial situation and can not pay their bills. Heart-fully they share with another Christian brother or sister their situation. Many going into a private meeting with a church leader to share as well. That generous giving soul hears the heart of the situation and opens up their check book to help out this "prayerful" request. The bleeding heart takes the money, pays the rent, or pays for the car repair, or pays for the food to feed the family with that money. A few days later, that needy person is sporting a new handbag, shoes, and makes a statement how all of a sudden "God has blessed me". No, that is where the distortion is. Did God bless them with funds to be irresponsible with, so that next month the hand goes out again for help? No. Do not be fooled. God truly knows the heart and the intentions and the genuine needs. This is stealing, lying and cheating. I can't think of what else it may be. The world has taught a lie, which often is embraced as truth, which it is not.
If you have mismanaged your resources, your income, and now find yourself in trouble, I believe that God will honor the honesty of your heart, the confession and then your intention to work in that area of your life. You misrepresent your situation when you claim to have just fallen on hard times when in fact you have mishandled your resources and continue to take and take and take because a kind heart has not heard the truth of your situation. It is a lie to express your hardships if you were out wining and dining the weekend before. If you have updated your technology for better, downloaded more stuff, oh it's just a few dollars, but it adds up.
Times are hard right now. I know that and count my blessings for a warm cozy home, and food on the table. I see a great many people stealing and lying to the church and receiving the goodness of a church wanting to help.Churches that understand the heart of Jesus to serve others. What do you give back to that church who has helped you? Or do you take, take, take, and never give anything back? I hope that if you are reading this, if you are a taker, that your heart would be convicted.
Matthew 25:38 "When was it we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing" Jesus never turned away those in need, nor should we. How that need is represented is where the concern comes in.
A couple of years ago more than half a dozen families shared with me their devastating loss's and asked where to go for immediate help. These are the very same people who give to others, share their resources when and however they can, and in their time of need felt embarrassed to even have to ask for prayer or help. The church came alongside to help, friends came along to help. These families had no choice but to TAKE, TAKE, TAKE. And as time has strengthened their situation, these are the same people who now come alongside others to help and in turn GIVE, GIVE, GIVE.
Perhaps you may have not been taught, or it was never role modeled what it looks like to give back. We have become so self consumed, that many of us do not even have time to come alongside and help the church, a neighbor, or a friend anymore. The very hand that feeds your heart, your soul, and many churches today feeding you, offering an amazing cup of coffee. Do you just show up and take? Do you just come to be given too? How do you give back to the very people, or the church that gives and gives and gives.
Do you free up a little time to serve those who so generously give of their time, their resources, their financial blessings? I said in the beginning of this note that I have been stewing for years. Watching people, Christ followers, claim to be in need on one hand, and on the next hand spending money frivolously on what they have to have now, and not able to take care of what needs to be taken care of later. Then going and asking for help and painting a false picture of what the needs are. Yes, if you spent your money last weekend fine dining, and road tripping, then sit with generous lovely old lady Sally telling her you can't afford your wedding dress.....you are deceiving both her and yourself.
"A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man's hands will return to him. vs.15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,but a wise man is he who will listen to council."
The world give the "fools" view which at the time and moment seems right. It is never right to lie or steal no matter how we package it. Even if it's packaged as a genuine need, when it's not. God does not call us into irresponsibility. No matter how you want to phrase or package it.
Seek council if you have problems managing your resources. Be upfront and honest and then truly God will bless you from one day to the next. I know one thing for sure, as again those who have been given to under false pretenses often know it was false already, as once they are given to, you never see them again, and they go from one giving heart to the next lying, stealing, taking and this becomes the habit of their lives. It is time to break that habit?
Recently one women shared with me the generosity of her church. The money was given to turn electric back on, fill the cupboards with food, and put gas in the car. That was was never used for those things. Instead a family trip commenced and glory be, "God just blessed our family." Not so "glory be" they were back at the church the next week asking for more, and never disclosing that trip.
If you continue to read in Proverbs 12 you will read this:
vs.17 "He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness speaks of deceit."
vs.20 "Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil."
vs.21 "No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble."
Where are you in this line up of scripture? Is your life a constant trouble? Do you falsely represent your situation? Do you think it is deceitful when you falsely express the needs, when you know in fact you have just mismanaged, overly indulged, and now you are forced, by the world's views to continue to take?
The Word of God is the resource for us to grow more in the knowledge of our walk with God. I want my walk to be honest, I want to walk in truth and be able to give back to those who come alongside to give. I pray that we see the heart of Jesus, and in knowing Him intimately we surrender the falsehoods of our lives.
I pray that as we are given to, we give back. I pray that if you are taking under false pretenses God convicts your heart to be honest with yourself, more importantly with Him, and you allow Him to expose this in your life.
Blessings & Love, Elizabeth Traub