How can you be generous when you can’t even make ends meet? It’s a lot easier to give when you have a rich supply of whatever it is you’re going to give – money, time, love, knowledge, understanding, forgiveness, grace… When your account is full, you have little to worry about when you need to share with others.
It makes sense with money, but how about the giving of your soul and spirit? If a couple marries with emotional deficits – chaos on her side of the family, neglect on his – they join two unhealthy souls with unrealistic expectations for each spouse to fill the other’s gaping void. It’s a recipe for disaster. They can love each other immensely, but become cruelly defensive because of unresolved pasts. On the other hand, when each has an emotional bank account rich with goodwill, trust and a stable sense of self-worth, their marriage can weather any storm and grow even stronger.
How can someone who has been emotionally bankrupt by a horrible past alter their damaged self-worth? Does he have to find someone to love and nurture him enough to compensate for years of rejection? How long would that take? The poor giver would have to keep giving and receive nothing back, and in the end become a victim of neglect as well.
But many Christians with painful pasts feel that they have no choice but to be negative and mistreat the people who love them, because of their emotional deficits. They expect their family to fill the void, to ignore their outbursts, to love them unconditionally, and to endure whatever tantrums they throw because they just can’t stop themselves. But they are looking to the wrong place for a solution.
The disciples were afraid of being left by Jesus, but He wasn’t going to leave them in a vacuum. In fact, it was going to be even better that He leave, because the Father would send the Spirit to live inside of them and fill the void. The Spirit would teach them everything they needed, but even more than that, God would make His home inside of them. Jesus’ peace would be their gift, and the only requirement for all of this was obedience (John 14:7).
This is what true grace is. Worthless sinners being filled to overflowing with the God of the Universe, bringing all His love, joy, peace, power, goodness and healing to live and work inside of us, just because we’ve repented and live in obedience. God provides that rich bank account of stability and goodwill that can overflow to others, because we’re connected to the source. So, if we have this wealth of joy offered to us by our loving God, why are we still trying to live out our Christian lives by the force of our own strength? Why are we dry, unhappy and frustrated that we never seem to be “good enough”?
If you have truly repented and make an effort to live in obedience every day, then His abundant grace is available to you. The best way to experience this grace, is to start giving to others, with no fear of being left emotionally bankrupt. You have the eternal source flowing through you, so you will never run out. Instead of demanding that your family love you perfectly, be gracious and flexible with them when they fail. Instead of taking offense at every little comment, give to others because you’re already so greatly loved. Instead of living in a state of guilt, wanting to please everyone, serve others with joy, and with the discernment to serve only as He leads, not as others want or impose. Remember, He’s placed a treasure inside your “earthen vessels.” He wants you to experience the surpassing greatness of His power, and He means for you to enjoy it!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10 MEV