Americans talk a lot about giving! We celebrate Christmas and birthdays with gift giving as well as other holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s day and the list goes on. Giving is a wonderful opportunity to bless people and show our love, concern, and appreciation for them and who they are or what they do. We even get tax deductions for charitable contributions, a big plus for some people. Our giving of course is not limited to material gifts, but we give of our time and talents as well.
While pondering the peace of God I came across this “giving” theme in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” At first glance it might seem this verse is solely about the difference in Jesus’ peace and that of the world. But there is another message in this verse separate from the topic of peace, equally important to take notice of; the difference between how Jesus gives and how the world gives because He gives not as the world gives.
Just look at what God gives to us! Our heavenly Father gave us the best gift of all time – His Son, Jesus, who gave us the best gift of all time, His life so we may have life. Then Father sent us the best gift of all time – our precious Holy Spirit, our Helper and Comforter! Yep! Three best gifts!
I learned many years ago from one of my daughters “best” cannot be reserved for only one person or thing. She had several “best” friends and no matter how many times I told her “best” implies only one, so people can’t have more than one best friend, she insisted they were all her best friends. To appease me she called them her “highest” friends but again, I would tell her highest infers one stands above the others. But she stood her ground, applying her theory to just about everything in life, always seeing more than one thing as best or highest!
Through the years because of my relationship with God, I have come to understand, appreciate, accept, and yes, even agree with her logic. It is impossible to pick out one thing that is best about God; one quality that stands above the others, one gift I like best, or one thing I love best about Him. And there is nothing about Him that could be described as just “okay, fine, or good”. There isn’t anything less than the best because everything about Jesus is the best, the highest!
This includes how He gives! Jesus gives authentically to enrich our souls for all eternity, not just here on earth. When Jesus says He gives not as the world gives, we can conclude the world gives imperfectly while everything about His giving is perfect! James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” His perfection in giving is also evident in His timing and foreknowledge because He gives before we ask! Matthew 6:8 “…For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
Later in this section of Scripture Jesus says not to worry because He gives us what we need, including food, drink, and clothing therefore we can spend our time seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the rest will come!
Earlier in this chapter Jesus teaches us how to pray and tells us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Notice, we aren’t asking but declaring He gives us everything we need each day. Some people think that sounds a bit disrespectful or making an assumption. However, the reality is we are simply agreeing with what God already told us He has given because He doesn’t give as the world gives. So, wouldn’t it be better for us to spend our time agreeing with Him for our daily bread and then asking for the things we are told to ask for in the Word of God? For example, His Holy Spirit?
Luke 11:11-13 “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
Most people settle for whatever God wants to give them, thinking it’s almost sinful to ask Him to give us His Holy Spirit. But the Word says Holy Spirit is given to those who ask! And if we ask our fathers for earthly things, shouldn’t we ask our heavenly Father for spiritual things? We are encouraged to ask for good things because that’s what He gives! Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Evil in this context doesn’t mean we are terrible, wicked people, but we are sinful and imperfect. BUT still, being evil, we know how to give good gifts so it would seem only reasonable to expect good things from our perfect Father! All we have to do is ask for good things. Do we ever stop to ponder the good things He is willing to give? And if so, do we ask Him? Or do we get stuck wondering what they are or feel selfish asking for good gifts? It would seem Christians are often opposed to “asking” God for specific gifts, especially His Holy Spirit, preferring to take whatever God wants to give us. Yet clearly, these verses speak of God giving in response to our asking.
What is even more confusing (in my opinion) than our unwillingness to ask God for good things is our willingness to ask for the things we should ask for because He has already given them to us. For example we ask Him to give us peace in the midst of turmoil. But He told us He left us peace and gave us His peace. We already possess it so should be abiding in it not asking for it! Or we ask Him to be with us, comfort and help us even though He said He will never leave or forsake us, not to mention He is our Comforter and Helper. Or we ask Him to give us direction and guidance when He promises to lead us beside the still waters, and His Holy Spirit teaches us all things.
If you feel defensive at this point because those are things you ask of God daily, please don’t take offense too quickly. Rather hear His Word and start living in the reality of what He has given. Your life will never be the same if you stop asking for what is already yours, and start asking for the good things He gives. Then we will ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking until we receive, find, and have doors opened to us! Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
There is something incredible about the way Jesus gives “not as the world gives”. When He gives something of Himself to us, He doesn’t just give us title or deed! He actually gives us possession of it. But if we only grab the title, thankful for the rights and privileges of ownership, but don’t take possession of what He gives, letting them live in us as we abide in Him, it’s like owning an illustrious piece of property or a fancy vehicle, glorying in the title or deed but never dwelling on the property or driving the car. Now seriously! It’s no big deal to own something and never enjoy its’ benefits. Bragging rights are just that – bragging rights – which does nothing for us or others.
Jesus said he gave us His peace. We possess it! Knowing we have His peace is great, but if we don’t abide in His peace, experience it authentically, and let it rule our hearts, we don’t benefit from it even though it is ours! We can boast all we want about knowing our Prince of Peace, knowing about His peace and how it fills our hearts and minds, but if we live in chaos, strife, worry, fear, and doubt, void of peace, it is just knowledge! We still have the title but we are empty if we do not take possession of what He gives.
Another unique thing about how He gives is its independence from anything else going on in life. Whatever He gives is ours to possess completely and wholly! If we spend our time asking the Giver of all good gifts to give us what is already ours…well… that just doesn’t make sense! Ask Him for more and ask Him what to ask for! And remember – knowing Christ opens our hearts to understand He gives not as the world gives and so we should receive, not as the world receives. God doesn’t tell us to ask for the things the world can give to us. We have to set our sights quite a bit higher!
There is so much more we can expand upon and explore in regard to God’s giving but let me give some last thoughts for today. Our asking has everything to do with life in Christ, not our life here on earth. Our asking has everything to do with Christ not us! Our asking has everything to do with bringing Him glory not bringing ourselves glory, comfort, or satisfaction in this lifetime. Our asking has everything to do with building the Kingdom of God, not building our own kingdom.
Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ultimately, our asking is a result of what He has asked of us! Our giving is a result of what He gives to us! No need to feel selfish about asking God for gifts or His Holy Spirit. He will give gifts and then teach us how to use them to bring Him glory on this earth, to shine like stars, that others would see our good works as a result of His giving, and glorify their Father in heaven. Friends, it isn’t about us! We need His gifts to bring Him glory! It’s time to ask from the One who gives not as the world gives, but as He alone can give!