There will always be givers and takers “where two or more are gathered”. It “comes natural” to some to think that you must give them what they want or think they need. It also “comes natural” to some to give without thinking what they will receive in return. A true giver expects nothing in return, they just give because it is the right thing to do if someone is in need. It is also Biblical to give when someone is in need. Jesus went beyond The Law in His message on the mountain to all people listening, extending the meaning of giving, loving, and relating to each other as believers in God:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:38-42, NIV
Amos declared why the end was coming. The reason was simple: Israel had broken God’s law and failed to live by His covenant. The first tablet of the law (Ten Commandments given to Moses) speaks to our relationship to God (Exodus 20:3–11) and the second tablet to our relationship to others (Exodus 20:12–17), and Israel had rebelled against both. They did not love God, and they did not love their neighbors
When asked by a learned scholar of The Law… “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40, NIV
I stop, pause, and ask myself, Am I a giver or a taker?
Amos 8, The Message
You Who Give Little and Take Much
My Master God showed me this vision: A bowl of fresh fruit.
2 He said, “What do you see, Amos?”
I said, “A bowl of fresh, ripe fruit.”
God said, “Right. So, I’m calling it quits with my people Israel. I’m no longer acting as if everything is just fine.”
3 “The royal singers will wail when it happens.”
My Master God said so.
“Corpses will be strewn here, there, and everywhere.
4-6 Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming
so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
when I can go out and have a good time?”
Who give little and take much,
and never do an honest day’s work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.
7-8 God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
“I’m keeping track of their every last sin.”
God’s oath will shake earth’s foundations,
dissolve the whole world into tears.
God’s oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
leaving behind a sea of mud.
9-10 “On Judgment Day, watch out!”
These are the words of God, my Master.
“I’ll turn off the sun at noon.
In the middle of the day the earth will go black.
I’ll turn your parties into funerals
and make every song you sing a dirge.
Everyone will walk around in rags,
with sunken eyes and bald heads.
Think of the worst that could happen
—your only son, say, murdered.
That’s a hint of Judgment Day
—that and much more.
11-12 “Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!”
These are the words of my Master God.
“I’ll send a famine through the whole country.
It won’t be food or water that’s lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
roam to the north, wander to the east.
They’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone,
hoping to hear God’s Word—but they won’t hear it.
13-14 “On Judgment Day,
lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst,
robust young men will faint of God-thirst,
Along with those who take oaths at the Samaria Sin-and-Sex Center,
saying, ‘As the lord god of Dan is my witness!’
and ‘The lady goddess of Beer-sheba bless you!’
Their lives will fall to pieces.
They’ll never put it together again.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Are we givers or takers? We can be both! It depends on who you believe and base your life upon. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We take from God what is offered to us—Eternal life by believing in what Jesus did for us—removed our sins!
When redemption and reconciliation to God is settled, our giving and taking character is changed by God’s Holy Spirit working in us and through us. We discover that when we really believe what Jesus did for us; we want to be more like Jesus. We have help doing that—the power of His Holy Spirit! We begin to see ourselves giving more and taking less. We want others to know Him, too, so we give testimony to what He is doing in us. We think less of self and more of Jesus so we take on a new nature, leaving the old selfish take gene of our old nature behind.
It takes time for this transformation to happen (like all our lives) but it happens! Day by day, step by step, we respond differently to others. We love more. We give more from a place of “cheerfully, joyous giving” as described by Paul to the Corinthian church…”The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
We take from a loving, generous Father in Heaven who calls us His children and provides all we need. So, it becomes “natural” to be like Him in love and generosity to others. We must not refuse our brothers and sisters in need, Jesus tells us. Being joint heirs with Jesus Christ, we must respond as He would! Jesus taught us how to love and God loves us when we get along and help each other.
While Jesus pressed the point of giving and loving, He had enemies who angrily disagreed and said so. We learn from Jesus how to deal with those who oppose our new life as well. We see what Jesus did not do. He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!” He left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunters and sent out no posse of rag tag disciples.
If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, Jesus did. But he didn’t take it. Instead he died for them. How could he do it? I don’t know. But I do know that, all of a sudden, my wounds seem very painless. My grudges and hard feelings are suddenly childish.
When someone challenges your integrity, disregards your opinion, takes more from you than you have and ignores your work to grow in Christ, how do you respond? Do you lose your temper, hold a grudge, or put the person down? Next time you face criticism, consider how Jesus carefully chose his words and used Scripture to answer his opponents. Yes, we learn from Jesus every day if we dive in to who He is and what He did. Follow Jesus—Take from Him what He has to give…His wisdom.
Amos describes a famine that would be a lack of not only literal food but also of spiritual nourishment. Warren Wiersbe comments are worth our consideration:
“What a tragedy to have plenty of religion but no word from the Lord! Note the striking similarity in the contemporary world with its proliferation of religions and spirituality without truth or substance. That means no light in the darkness, no nourishment for the soul, no direction for making decisions, no protection from the lies of the enemy. The people in Amos’s day as well as ours stagger like drunks from place to place, always hoping to find food and drink for their bodies and spiritual sustenance for their souls.”
Take what God has to offer. Give the Good News to those who are still wandering and staggering in the dark seeking the Light.
You are teaching us so much about how to live for you through your prophets of old. You are also teaching us the consequences of what it is like if we do not follow you, taking from the world whatever it has to offer selfishly. Lord, I’m yours. Continue to grow your character traits in me so I will bear the Holy Fruits of your loving Spirit.
In Jesus Name, Amen