Freely you have received, freely give. This is a great principle of the Christian life. We do not protest when God gives to us, when He loads us with blessings and mercies. That would be unnatural. We receive His gifts freely without a fuss. This is the way we are to give to others: freely (and without a fuss).
I have always thought of this verse in terms of financial and material blessings: God gives to me, and I in turn give to others. So it startled me the other morning when I noticed the context of this statement in Matthew 10. Jesus has called His disciples, and He is giving them instructions as He sends them out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (vs. 8).
The giving that the disciples will be doing is not in the form of financial gifts. They will be giving themselves away, laying themselves out for sick, unclean, dead, and demon-possessed people. And they’ll be getting no tax deductible receipt at the end of the month. Not very glamorous work. They received freely from Christ, and now they are to give to others by means of His power and grace.
So how do we do this kind of giving? We certainly do not have the same gifts as the apostles. But we do have the same Gospel, the same forgiveness of sins; we have received the same Good News. How did we receive healing, cleansing, resurrection life, and deliverance? Freely. Joyfully. Gratefully. And that is the way we are to give others the Good News. In other words, this verse is about evangelism. We are to give this Good News freely, the same way we received it.
I think by extension we can also apply this to all kinds of service to others, whether it is for our newborn children, our aging parents, our uncooperative co-workers, or the pedestrian walking casually across the street when we are in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s a great standard to hold ourselves to; it is a form of doing unto others the way we would like them to do unto us.Â How do we receive a cup of cold water? We should give it the same way.
And finally, I think it does apply to financial giving. How do we receive a big check in the mail? With a whoop and a holler? So we give it the same way (only we do the whooping quietly in our closet).