Giving and Receiving

There is an old Jewish story that tells of a rabbi who asked the Lord to show him heaven and hell.  He met with the Lord and God said to him, “I will show you hell first.”  Inside was a large round table with a pot of delicious stew in the center of the table.  The people in the room were equipped with long-handled spoons, but they were all starving.  They were able to dip into the stew quite easily, but because the spoon handles were longer than a person’s arm, they were unable to get the nourishing food to their mouth.  God closed the door and said to him, “Now I will show you heaven.”The Lord opened another door and the rabbi saw a room that was identical to the first, except that the people were laughing and talking and they were all well nourished.  They had the same long-handled spoons, but somehow they had overcome this handicap.  To the puzzled rabbi, the Lord explained, “It’s simple, but it requires a certain skill–they have learned to feed each other.”
The people in heaven were obviously prospering in an atmosphere of giving and receiving.  If someone would refuse to give and receive, the system would collapse.  
This story beautiful illustrates a central need for members of the Body of Christ – everyone has to be willing to give and receive.  If the Church is truly going to be the Church, then we must all be willing to be a part of both sides, giving and receiving.  If we’re honest, most of us have very little trouble being on the giving side, but for too many people they have a hard time receiving.
Our world is marked by a huge sense of loneliness.  We have lost community; we have lost intimacy with others.  From Face Book to Instagram we have become a society of online addicts.  Walk into any restaurant or public meeting place and you will see people sitting next to each other, friends, family and strangers alike, and almost no one is in conversation with others, they are engrossed with their mobile devices.  We have hundreds, thousands of “friends” but there is no one there to comfort us in person.  
God expects us to care about others, to love them and He has specifically instructed us that we are to instruct those who are new in the faith.  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  That takes getting involved, talking, praying together, loving and spending life together.  
A feeling of purpose develops when we understand the biblical reasons for the church.  Ministry and personal growth are most effectively accomplished through interaction, fellowship and believers who are committed to Christ, to one another and to ministry in the world.  We need to be personally available to one another and we need others to be personally available to us!  We need one another.
Time constraints on people of the 21st Century dictates that they must make choices in the use of their limited time and resources.  But sadly we sacrifice time with others when that might be what we most desperately need.  We find ourselves trying to “go it alone” rather than taking the time to develop friendships, relationships and spend time with people in person.
Most of us have looked up into the sky on a Fall afternoon and seen a formation of geese flying south for the winter.  The flock of geese are most likely in a “V” formation and they fly that way on purpose.  As each bird flaps its wings it creates a lift for the bird immediately behind them. The lead goose is constantly changing because that position faces the greatest opposition, with no help from the other geese.  And you have probably heard them “honking” as they fly.  Those who study these birds tell us that the geese are “honking” their encouragement to the ones ahead of them:  “Good job; keep up the good work; you can do it; we’re here behind you; we’ll take our turn in the lead when our time comes” and so on and so on.
What’s interesting is that scientists tell us that by flying in this formation that the entire flock adds about 71% greater flying range than if each bird did it on its own.  If a goose becomes sick or is disabled and has to fall out of the formation, two other geese will fall out with them and follow them down to offer protection and assistance.  They will stay with the fallen goose until he is restored to health and then together they will launch out with another formation to catch up with the group.
We need each other.  We need to learn to give and receive.  We can’t nourish ourselves on Face Book, Instagram, email and other forms of social media.  We need the “flock” to help lift us up and the flock needs us.  And we need to quit “honking” our gripes and complaints and start “honking” our encouragement and love to one another.
So let me encourage you to grab the handle on the spoon and start feeding someone around you and “honk” some encouragement their way.  And while you’re at it, remember that you need to accept the spoon offered to you by others as they are “honking” their encouragement to you!

One Response to “Giving and Receiving”

  1. Dorrie Tyler says:

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