Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:1-42, Acts 1:13, James 2:1-7
Have you ever received a gift with no strings attached? Many of us may recall the joy of receiving Christmas presents as a child. When you’re young there are no expectations of repayment; the gift is freely given, and certainly, freely taken.
Do you also know what it’s like to receive a gift with strings attached? Maybe you “won” a free night at the hotel in exchange for a timeshare meeting, or your friend loaned you their car with an unspoken debt to pay. It’s not so fun to receive a gift and find out later it wasn’t really free.
The gift of salvation can only be received freely like a child. “Life to the fullest” is free to us because our generous God paid the price with His own Son (John 10:10). Not to mention, we couldn’t pay the fair value for such a precious present, even if we tried. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples for the first time, He warned them about the quid-pro-quo economy of the world (Matthew 10). Jesus was well aware that when you start healing people, driving out demons, or raising people from the dead, there will be loved ones willing and eager to compensate you.
But Jesus does not want people to believe they can buy God’s love or favor. The Lord doesn’t want you to confuse the gospel with a bait-and-switch timeshare meeting. Christ warned the disciples against the temptation to take those payments. He reminded them that they had received spiritual gifts without paying for them, so they should not charge others. “Freely you received, freely give,” He instructed them (Matthew 10:8).
We might not expect our neighbor or coworker to pay us money for our encouragement or service, but do we secretly expect them to pay us back with social favors or reciprocated acts? Are there spiritual gifts the Lord has given you that He wants you to spill out onto others lavishly? If you’ve been given the spiritual gift of encouragement, encourage others in the faith freely. If God has given you the spiritual gift of service, serve with a heart of generosity.
Everything we have has been given to us. When we remember that our salvation, financial resources, and spiritual gifts are purely by the grace of God, we become stewards instead of hoarders. As followers of Christ sent into the world, we are given the same instructions as the twelve disciples. Give away the most valuable gift of God’s love at no charge, because that is how we all received it—freely.
Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Katie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.