Big Boy Baby
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35
As children, we loved receiving gifts. Whether it was Christmas day or a birthday, we knew it was our time to receive and we reveled in it. As we matured though, at some point we realized that the joy is in giving gifts. We no longer wake up at 4AM on Christmas day so we can open presents. We’ve grown up, so, now we spend and prepare so that our children can have this experience.
Unfortunately, in my spiritual life, I’ve often refused to grow up. Following my own appetite as a child led to following my own appetite as an adult. In my self-addiction, my growth was stunted. Then, in my drug addiction, I continually prayed for God’s blessing. Do this for me. Give to me. Change me. Me, me, me.
In my first couple of attempts at recovery, it was important that I maintain my pride and dignity, so I didn’t let anyone know how I struggled. In my secrecy, I was unwilling to give of myself to reach out and help others. Like a man-child, or big boy baby, I just kept asking of God, refusing to help anyone else. And so, I kept relapsing as I failed to realize that it is often only in giving that I get the blessing.
That’s the lesson of today’s passage, in which Jesus said that we’re blessed by giving. When we receive a gift, that’s it. That’s the blessing. When we reach out in love though, doing for others, we receive a spiritual blessing that is far greater than any material gift.
I’ve not done everything right, but this time around in recovery, I quickly began reaching out to other addicts. Instead of simply asking for God’s help, I grew up and began going to jail and recovery homes. In giving of my own time and effort, I received the blessing I’d been asking for all along. As I assisted others with their faith and recovery, my faith and recovery were strengthened.
When we’ve been struggling, asking for God’s blessing but getting nowhere, then perhaps it’s time for giving, instead of demanding. Perhaps it’s time to grow up. In whatever we struggle with, we can always find others who are struggling similarly. We can meet with them, strengthening and encouraging them. In doing so, we’ll find the blessing that comes only through giving.