be a giver, not a taker

“If you are not feeding your soul on the presence, promises, & provisions of Christ, you will ask people & things to be the messiah they cannot be.”  David Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling.

Thought-provoking quote, isn’t it?  Our hearts detest a vacuum.  If they are empty, we try to fill them up.  “O taste and see, that the Lord is good!”  Our fellowship with Him is meant to be soul satisfying, to fill us up to overflowing, so that we live and lead from a place of contentment and strength.

When that is true, little else can be tempting.

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak of the errant ways of the leaders of Israel.  They had long forgotten the ways of the Lord, taking their examples from the world around them. Feeding on God was replaced with feeding off of the people.

In Ezekiel 34, the indictment of the leaders was due to their greed, their desire for personal gain at the expense of the people they were leading.  They let injustice flourish.  They “cared for themselves, rather than for their flock.”

When leaders are selfish, they are takers, not givers. They become indifferent to the needs of the people they are leading.  They see resources as something of their own possession, rather than God’s.  In this day and age, it is easy to feel entitled to a little something extra, to a little more respect, to a little better treatment than everyone else.  After all, don’t I deserve it?

giver or taker

Leaders are meant to be givers– giving first to God all of their hearts– leading as an act of worship and service.  God calls leaders as stewards of His resources and shepherds of His people. To be givers, not takers. Growers and builders, not consumers or plunderers.  The end result should be increasing character and holiness of the people and the wise investment of His resources for His Kingdom purposes.

Peter gives this instruction:  “ Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  I Peter 5

There will be a time for reward.  It is not now.  The crown of glory will be something that God gives, not something I take for myself.  To that end, I pray this prayer along with the psalmist.

O Lord, Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

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