As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:7-8
Business people have a complicated relationship with “free”. Those in the retail trade give “free gifts” with purchase. I suspect all their customers are aware that it is just bundling by another name but you would have to read the fine print to get that. We criticize companies who give away their products for “free” in foreign aid. Not only does it threaten local industries but it builds brand recognition and goodwill for the donors so they can charge more in the future.
Christians also have a complicated relationship with free. We have received a lot of things for free – life, health, warm sunny days, children, spouses who love us. Frankly, the things we have received for free are the most valuable things we have. Sadly, we tend to undervalue those things. It is not until we lose some of them that we appreciate how valuable they are. We are so good at receiving things for free sometimes we hardly notice them.
It is the other side of the free equation that causes us struggles. We are NOT good at giving for free. Many of our most intimate relationships are marked by indicia of barter and exchange. “My spouse takes care of the kids so I have to let her buy whatever she wants from the mall.” “My father is wicked unkind but he pays my tuition so I have to overlook his rudeness.” This is not the way of Christ.
In our text for today, Jesus tells his disciples how they are to “go”. You can think of it as His telling them how they are to live their lives or make their way through the world. They are called to give freely. They are not told to drop a few coins in a beggar’s cup. They are not told to send a monthly check to their charity of choice. There is nothing wrong with either of those things but neither would be responsive to Christ’s command.
What is it they are told to give? They are told to give what they received and to give it in the same way they received it – free. What have you received for free – joy, love, rest, respect, acknowledgment, concern, care, sympathy? Whatever you have received, Christ has commanded you to give, and to give it for free.
This is a good time to work on our gift giving my friends. Growing in giving will also grow you in other ways. You will come to recognize the gifts you are receiving much more readily. You will come to value them more. You will come to live in thankfulness, glorying in the riches so freely heaped on you. Take steps to becoming more thankful and satisfied this week. Look around at what you have received and give it the same way you received it.