One of my favorite biblical sayings is “Freely you have received, freely give”. Two immediate questions come to my mind when hearing that passage. The first is, what was given to me for free and the second is have I ever charged any person for that thing given to me for free. We humans of the western free market culture have a peculiar mindset that knows no bounds when it comes to selling stuff. Our sense of justice is a trade in which we received something and sell it at a higher value. It is then culturally considered a sign of good stewardship if you make a profit and even unjust to just break even.
So what have we been given for free? I believe that God is universal in His gifts to humankind which is easily seen in His distribution of rain and sunlight. Everyone on earth experiences the light of the sun. Those on the equator and at the poles have a slightly different experience but the majority of earthlings live between those extremes. Astronauts who have left the planet have a totally different experience than us earthlings that are bound to this planet. Yet it is still safe to say that all humans have freely received light from the sun.
It is also safe to say that all humans have also freely received the Spiritual Light of God’s evidence through His Son Jesus. Passing that evidence on to others should be a free gift we give to others. However like rain water it has become very popular to charge a fee for the redistribution of that which has been freely given. This is unjust because it limits the return on God’s Spiritual investment. God’s spiritual goal is for all humans to become saturated in His Presences and our human goal is to sustain the human distribution process. The conflict I see is that God is trying to awake His Spiritual Kingdom in as many as possible and humans are building a material support system to help those that claim to be in the Kingdom.
Matthew 26:8-10 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.
John 6:10-12 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples[a] to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”
Luke 12:46-48 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
I would suggest that since God is Spirit the investment that He will account for will also be spirit. This is not to suggest the investments in material should not be accounted for. However after we have been awaken what is most important is the Spiritual return on investment. To gain the material world, or build bigger barns to hold material goods may not be the most important focus of God’s accountability.
I offer this posting as an encouragement for us to take the opportunity to verify that Spirit and not material is the focus of our lives. If we seek first that which is of Spirit then our faith tells us that the material will be added. If we focus on the material first we should not be surprise when we do not reap of the Spirit. As we re-read scripture we need to do so with a focus on the spirit.
Most of the material examples in scripture are there to communicate spiritual principles and concepts. However if we just focus on the obvious material object described in the letter of the word we will be rewarded only with a return on our material investment. Jesus was a free Spiritual investment planted in human form, and when God comes for an account on His investment, He will be focused on the return of His spiritual investment.
11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas,[b] and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’
15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”