Tuesday, 11 December 2018

C Columns

Getting and Giving - A Seasonal Syndrome That's Actually Good

By  Daniel  Bobinski 

My  wish  this  holiday  season  is  for  everyone  to  catch  the  getting  and  giving  syndrome.  No,  I  don’t  want  anyone  getting  ill.  I  want  people  to  truly  experience  God’s  blessings  by  first  receiving  those  blessings,  and  then  giving  them  to  others.  This  season  of  giving  thanks  and  exchanging  gifts  sets  the  perfect  stage  for  highlighting  the  importance  of  living  a  life  of  love.  

Let’s  start  by  taking  a  quick  trip  back  in  time.  When  I  first  got  saved  nearly  40  years  ago,  my  pastor  used  easy-to-understand  analogies  about  experiencing  God  in  your  life.  One  example  was  a  garden  hose.  He  said  if  the  spigot  was  turned  off  then  the  hose  wasn’t getting  any  water,  and  nothing  was  going  to  get  blessed,  even  if  the  nozzle  was  open.  “The  hose,”  he  said,  “couldn’t  give  if  it  wasn’t  getting.”

My  pastor  also  said  if  the  spigot  was  open  but  the  nozzle  was  closed,  then  the  hose  would  have  water,  but  nothing  was  getting  blessed.  Nobody  could  get  a  drink  and  plants  weren’t  getting  what  they  needed.  He  said  that  the  only  way  for  the  hose  to  experience  the  movement  of  life-sustaining  water  was  for  both  the  spigot  and  the  nozzle  to  be  open.    

The  analogy  is  pretty  simple.  If  we’re  not  letting  God  into  our  lives,  we’re  not  getting  anything  from  Him.  But  even  if  we’re  receiving  from  God  yet  not  sharing  what  we  receive  with  others,  we’re  not  experiencing  the  movement  of  God  in  our  lives.

My  pastor  called  this  “the  getting  and  giving  syndrome.”  At  first  that  phrase  confused  me,  because  I  always  associated  the  word  syndrome  with  an  illness.  But  if  you  look  up  the  definition,  a  syndrome  is,  “A  group  of  symptoms  that  consistently  occur  together,  or  a condition  characterized  by  a  set  of  associated  symptoms.”  So,  although  it’s  unconventional,  it  makes  sense:  Get  blessed;  be  a  blessing.  If  those  two  “symptoms”  are  occurring  together  in  our  lives,  then  we’re  experiencing  God’s  blessings.  

As  Christians,  we  are  instructed  by  Jesus  to  love  one  another  (even  our  enemies!).  We’re  supposed  to  do  that  all  year  long,  but  during  the  holidays  the  theme  seems  to  surround  us  a  little  more.  In  case  you  didn’t  know,  the  Greek  word  for  “love”  used  in  Christ’s  command  is  agape,  and  it  has  nothing  to  do  with  warm  fuzzies.  It’s  defined  for  us  in  1  Corinthians  13:  Patience,  kindness,  not  envying,  not  boasting,  being  polite  (not  rude),  etc.  In  our  own  strength,  we  can  take  this  love  only  so  far.  For  example,  by  myself,I  have  a  limited  capacity  for  patience.  I  envy.  I’m  not  always  polite.  In  other  words,  by  myself,  I’m  not  capable  of  fulfilling  the  true,  Biblical  command  to  love  others.  

However,  if  my  spigot  is  wide  open  and  I’m  inviting  the  Holy  Spirit  to  manifest  Himself  in  my  life,  then  those  agape  (Godly  love)  attributes  are  available  to  me.  After  all,1  John  4:8  is  pretty  clear:  God  is  love.    Four  verses  later,  John  talks  about  how  love  can  be  made  complete  in  us  (v.  12):  “No  one  has  ever  seen  God;  but  if  we  love  one  another,  God  lives  in  us  and  his  love  is  made  complete  in  us”  (emphasis  added).  

So,  having  the  spigot  open  is  one  thing.  But  by  opening  the  nozzle  and  showing  love  to others,  God’s  love  is  made  complete  in  us,  because  then  we  experience  love  both  ways  —receiving  and  giving.  

When  I  teach  on  1  Corinthians  13,  I  usually  go  around  the  room  and  ask  people  if  they  have  a  rutabaga.  Nobody  ever  has  one.  Then  I’ll  ask  if  anyone  has  an  onion.  Nobody  has  one  of  those,  either.  The  point  I  make  is  that  it’s  impossible  to  give  others  what  you  don’t have.  To  truly  live  a  life  of  Christian  love,  we  need  to  first  ask  God  to  grow  those  attributes  within  us  via  His  Holy  Spirit.  And,  we  need  to  receive  them  before  we  can  give them  to  others.  

Did  you  catch  that?  We  need  to  receive  them.

God  gives  us  patience  (and  all  the  other  attributes  of  love)  because  He  knows  we’ll  be  blessed  if  we  become  more  like  Him.  He  wants  us  to  receive  it  and  cherish  it  and  use  it.  I’ll  even  go  so  far  as  to  say  if  we  don’t,  we’re  ignoring  Christ’s  instruction  to  love  God  and  to  love  others  as  ourselves.  Think  about  someone  rejecting  a  gift  that  you  give  them.    Ever  have  that  happen?  If  not,  I’ll  tell  you  from  experience,  it  doesn’t  strengthen  the  relationship.  We  give  gifts  because  we  want  to  bless  someone.  It’s  no  different  with  God.  

Oh,  the  joy  of  blessing  that  comes  when  we  accept  (and  fully  receive)  the  gift  of  patience  from  God  —  and  own  it.  It’s  like  when  someone  who  loves  you  dearly  gives  you a  gift  at  Christmas.  That  person  thinks  about  your  situation  and  searches  hard  to  find  the  perfect  gift  for  you.  They  want  you  to  own  it,  keep  it,  and  use  it.  That’s  exactly  what  God wants  us  to  do  with  the  love  He  plants  within  us.  The  patience,  the  kindness,  the  politeness,  all  of  it.  

Bottom  line,  this  holiday  season  I  pray  both  your  spigot  and  your  nozzle  are  wide  open.I  pray  that  you’re  actively  seeking  for  God  to  fill  you  with  His  love,  and  that  you  are  actively  distributing  what  God  is  giving  you.  It’s  getting,  and  it’s  giving.  If  you’re  going  to  have  any  kind  of  syndrome  this  holiday  season,  I  pray  this  is  the  one  you  have.  

Daniel  Bobinski,  M.Ed.  teaches  teams  and  individuals  how  to  use  Emotional  Intelligence,  and  he  blogs  regularly  on  that  topic  at www.eqfactor.net. He’s  also  a  homeschooling  dad,  a  home  fellowship  leader,  a  best-selling  author,  and  a  popular  speaker  at  conferences  and  retreats.  Reach  him  at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  (208)  375-7606.

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