Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Give Not Get

I'm convinced that the majority of the time the person most changed by a preach is the preacher! That was certainly true when I spoke at Ben & Heather's wedding over the summer. It had such an impact on me, and on my attitude in our marriage since I spoke it, that I thought I'd share it here. 

My observation is that most relationships are defined by get. By what we are going to get from the other person. That's certainly true in many marriages. You're getting a husband or wife. You're getting that persons love, support, friendship and encouragement. You're getting their sense of fun, the emotional support they give you, their kind words, their energy and vitality, or their huge bank balance! It's so easy to think of any relationship, not just a marriage, in terms of what you're going to get from it. The problem with get is what happens when the other persons starts to fall short. When you're no longer getting what you expected to get. At that point many relationships, and many marriages, fall apart.

But there's another way. That way is characterised by give. By thinking of the other person not for what you are going to get from them, but by what you can give to them. Give is a whole different ball game to get. Give is at the heart of all the great relationships in history. Fans of "The Notebook" cry at the husband who day after day gives himself to the wife who only fleetingly remembers who he is. People are stirred by Lawrence Oates who famously gave his life that his friends might live. And the greatest love ever, God's love for us, is demonstrated not by Him getting but by Him giving the most precious thing He had - Jesus. And God gave with no promise of getting, in fact knowing that despite His giving many would still choose to reject His love.

'Give not get' is at the core of the wedding vows. The vow the couple make to be united "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health" is a commitment that regardless of what you get from the other person, you are going to carry on giving. Reinforced by the statements "with my body I honour you, all that I have I give to you, and all that I have I share with you". Give not get.

And here's the miracle in the economy of God. By giving you get. Jesus tells us that it is "more blessed to give than receive", and Paul wrote to the Galatians that "you reap what you sow". So by giving you get the very thing you might have hoped to get in the first place.

So today why not have a go at "give not get". Not just for those of us who are married, but for all of us in the relationships that really matter to us. Whether with a parent, with a friend who really matters to us, with a partner, with a boss or with a child. Think today not what you can get from that person, but what you can give to them. You might give them a gift, give them some encouragement, give time to be with them, give them forgiveness or give them the gift of listening. Whatever it is focus not on what you're going to get, but on what you're going to give.

I'd love to hear any "give not get" experiences you have.


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