VERSE: “And he pitched his tent having Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he builded an altar.” Genesis 12:8
OSWALD: “Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift…If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded.” (January 6th)
MY THOUGHT: Hoarders. I don’t know if you’ve seen the TV show by this title, but every time I watch it, my heart goes out to the many people who struggle under the weight of their own belongings. I’ve been there, at least in small part. I understand what it is like to feel overwhelmed by the disorder of clutter and paralyzed by too much stuff. Drowning in excess, yet, inexplicably, feeling the compulsion to go out and get more.
Over the past five years, the Lord has taken me through a shedding season, a pruning and letting go of thirty years of accumulation. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing it has been! But there is a spiritual hoarding we must deal with as well. For it can be just as detrimental, just as debilitating.
Especially when we clutch to ourselves the blessings, the spiritual gifts and talents God has given us, clinging tightly to the very things we were meant to give away.
“Blessed to be a blessing.” That’s what we’re called to be as children of God. But so often we operate from a poverty mentality. A subconscious fear that “this is as good as it’s going to get – so I better get while the getting’s good.”
Like the Israelites on the first day the manna fell, we run about gathering as much blessing as we can carry – both spiritual as well as practical. Stuffing it in our mouths until it comes out our ears. Packing it in our pockets and briefcases and storage units; taking bread we don’t need out of hungry people’s hands.
But just like the Israelites discovered, hoarded manna doesn’t keep well. No matter how carefully you store it, it rots overnight. Just as the blessings we keep for ourselves tend to deteriorate. “God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself,” Oswald says, “it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.”
For God wants our lives to be “poured out like a drink offering,” as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:17, so that the “grace of our Lord” which He “poured out on [us] abundantly” (1 Tim. 1:14) might be released.
Jesus never hoarded His life. He gave it away, and He asks us to do the same. Calling us to a joyful generosity that shares with no reservation rather than a self-centered preservation. Giving what we’ve been given – including our very lives! – until there is no more to give. Then falling into bed at night exhausted, yet strangely fulfilled. Only to wake up the next morning to find rich food lying all around us. Grace for the day. New mercies provided each morning.
Fresh manna provided. And once again, our hands are filled…
Blessed to be a blessing.