Give to Gain

“Givers Gain,” the trademark slogan of Business Network International (BNI), would have done the authors of Proverbs proud. Whether we’re talking business referrals, aid in a crisis, or simply a friendly smile, the principle that those who give much, receive much, holds true at least 80 percent of the time. Do good for others and people will want to do good for you. Of course, it seems to work best for those who give with little conscious thought of return on investment; there’s something about a calculating, self-centered attitude that sneaks out to poison any gain expected from giving.

Honoring the beginning of Lent this past Wednesday, today’s post will look at the “givers gain” concept from the angle of giving things up as well as giving things away. Many people who adopt the “fast” tradition miss its real point: you don’t empty the space something normally fills in your life for the purpose of leaving that space vacant. You empty it with the idea of putting something better in its place. (If you don’t, something of only equal or often lesser quality will see that empty space and quickly accept the implied invitation.) The habitual linking together of “fast and pray” in the Bible is more than a clever turn of phrase. It’s a recognition of God’s ideal that we fast specifically for the purpose of making more room for prayer.

Notwithstanding, our society’s busy-equals-productive mindset would tell us that filling a space with prayer or meditation or much-needed sleep leaves that space as good as empty, and that the sooner we get rested up and get back to work, the better. While many of us recognize that attitude as foolish, few want to concede it may actually be sinful–and yet the Bible speaks harshly of those who think in terms of “When will … the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” (Amos 8:5) and of “merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods [who] spent the [Sabbath] night outside Jerusalem” (Neh. 13:20) like Black Friday shoppers waiting to rush in when the trade lines open. The Amos passage couples an eagerness to get back to work with active dishonesty and disregard for others; those who think of business even during worship and rest time are those who make profit their god, and once the lust for gain occupies the throne of life, everything and everyone else is reduced to one big “what’s in it for me?”

Those who have learned to actively practice communion with God know better. True prayer is not “idle time” or even simply “recharging”; it is a lifting of one’s whole self to a more intense level, a doorway to the “peace … which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) and which, far from cultivating a head-in-the-sand attitude toward the everyday world, frees us to function there with maximum effectiveness. Quiet time sharpens our ability to see what’s really needed, strengthens us physically to do what’s needed, and gives true purpose and fulfillment to everything we do. 

This Lent, instead of giving something up, why not add something to your life–such as a daily praising of God for all His blessings? The time you clear in your schedule for it will come back to you, in the form of more ultimately accomplished.

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2 Comments

  1. Jerrie

     /  March 10, 2014

    Great opportunity to really understand the God who gives all things. Thank you once again.

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Jerrie. Are you taking the “add something to your life” challenge?

    Reply

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