Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
The most basic philosophy of all of life is the concept of givers & takers. Most people fall into one of two categories: we are either givers looking out for the interests of others as exemplified by our Lord Jesus or takers who only seek their own interests. These two effectively transcend all other categories of religion, race, caste systems, ethnicity, social standing, and education. Father is a giver, but the whole world “lies in the power of the evil one.” In the Garden, Eve was a taker—she sought her own interests, which resulted in the original sin of mankind. Fortunately, our Heavenly Father intervened on our behalf.
As we begin to mature spiritually, we are often a mixture of givers and takers, which is the source of untold conflict. The disciples were a tremendous mixture. John wanted Jesus to do whatever he asked of Him. Most churches are serious mixtures. A friend of mine faithfully supported a church for 14 years, then finally decided it wasn’t working anymore. He met with the pastor and told him that after much anguish and prayer, he decided to find another church. The Pastor’s only response was a total absence of relational integrity and Agape: “Don’t you own the front end-loader outside? Could you finish the back-fill before you leave?”
Takers are full of eros—they love for what they can get out of someone. “Good to see you, Greg! Do you still have your sailboat?” The moment he sells his sailboat, he isn’t needed anymore. If our relationship is built on Agape, we love Greg regardless of whether the sailboat sells, sinks, or burns.
The Holy Spirit is unbelievably faithful to prompt us internally when we cease being a giver and start becoming a taker. Givers can be seen in these Scriptures:
- “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
- “Just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.”
- “[Love] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
- “I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?
It requires the presence of Agape, which includes spontaneity and risk, for us to be transformed from a taker to a giver. The love of God is never our possession, it is God’s—His love comes to us, then through us to a hurting world. If there is a logjam, it is in us. We love because He first loved us.
- Why was Eve’s original sin an act of being a taker?
- Would you categorize yourself as a giver or a taker? Why?
- When someone has approached you as a taker, how did you feel?