"Heal the sick,
cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have
received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8)
For years, I thought only of a PORTION of our verse for
today only - the part that says, "…Freely you have
received, freely give," and thought it simply related to money. And
money does apply, for we are indeed to give to those who merely ask (as we can
see in places like Matthew 5:42, where it commands, "GIVE
to him who asks you"). But giving is much more than money, as
we can see right here in Matthew 10:8, where the apostles were empowered so they
could do more.
The full verse is, of course, "Heal
the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have
received, freely give." Matthew Chapter 10, by the way, reflects an
interesting "preview of coming attractions" for Jesus’ 12 key followers.
Their names were listed at the beginning of the chapter, a place and time where
they were first called "disciples" (which means "learners").
And now they're being called "apostles" ("sent
ones"), for they were about to be sent out into service for our Lord.
They were to heal, but they were not doctors. They
were to restore lepers, which was unheard of at that time. Even now,
leprosy can only be arrested, not cured! Incredibly they were to
raise the dead as well, with no medical equipment or training. They had no
electrical "paddles" that could jump-start the heart. And finally, they
were to cast out demons, with no theological preparation or history of expertise
in that area.
The apostles were not allowed to take anything with
them. No money, no overnight bags, no extra clothing or shoes – nothing.
They were to give up control of their lives and learn to trust in the Lord.
Each one of us is being taught that very lesson - to TRUST in Him who loves us.
Notice they were sent to the Jewish people only (verses
5 & 6). This is interesting, because in our study in the Book of Acts, we
found that at least one of these men (Simon Peter) would specifically be sent to
non-Jews (Acts 10 & 11). God did not somehow change His mind – It is rather
that God’s purposes are not the same for all situations and people. It is
not He who changes, but we must respond to His will in differing circumstances.
It is you and I that need to change.
There are many excellent verses in Matthew 10, but our
focus is on verse 8 and its context: "Freely you have
received, freely give." And I am sure the apostles were
listening with great intensity to those words of the Lord at precisely that
moment, for they were just ordinary men who did not think they had anything to
This turn of events must have been ASTONISHING to them.
SUDDENLY, they were to do things they had never done before. Things NO ONE
could do (except Jesus Himself). Dennis Stinson has referred to the sudden
onset in our lives of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as similar to the "download"
(of a program) to a computer. In an instant of time, we can perform acts
and think thoughts we never even dreamed about before, just because God so wills
it for your life and mine.
I am also fascinated that Judas Iscariot, the one who
was to betray Jesus (verse 4), was given the same gifts and abilities as the
others. His betrayal would not be some sort of surprise, for Jesus "knew
what was in man" (John 2:25). Judas was carefully selected like the
others, but for different reasons. We learn from these verses in Matthew
10, that not all who exhibit the "gifts" (which includes teaching, prophesy,
praying successfully for the sick, and so on) – not all who do these things are
necessarily right with God.
All that we have, all that we are, whether it is
"natural" or "supernatural" in nature, is a gift to us. "Freely
you have received" applies to everyone, including those who are called
and sent by our Lord Jesus. As Dennis Stinson has said, "we
are very much like computers and can really do nothing until we are enabled by
I am surprised when I find what appears to be pride in
the Church. There is simply no ground for it. We are to give the
praise to God, and not substitute the accomplishments of any person in His
place. When people compliment us for something we have done, we can be
encouraged, and answer "Thank you," but all of us really need to understand that
if anything good is said or done, it is a gift from God.
God knows everything. You and I know so little,
and except the words and the actions come from Him and His will, we are like the
"noisy gongs" of 1 Corinthians 13:1. Life is
too short for "noisy gongs." We are to give the
glory to God, who has given us – everything.
The question is, WHY are these gifts given to people
like you and me? What are they for? (Because obviously, God does not
need us at all). The answer is right here in this verse, for He not only
said "freely you have received", but He also said "freely
give." He is re-creating us and we are to become a people of faith
in God; a people who reflect His love into the lives of those around us. A
people that no longer takes, but gives to the needs of others.
We wonder "Why?" about a lot of things. The answer
to "Why…?" is His grace. The answer is that He is increasing our faith.
The answer to "Why…?" is also that He is filling us with His love.
Let's thank Him:
Father, we thank You, and worship You, and we praise
Your Holy Name. We are hungry for more of You, and we see that Your
direction for us is that we are to love one another. Let Your love become
real in us, each one. Fill us, Lord. "Download" joy, peace,
and love into us all; into Your people. Rescue us from selfishness and
heal us, Lord. Heal our land, our Church, our people. Make us
Yours, and let us reach out to those in need. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"
Donations to this ministry are greatly appreciated
and may be sent to:
Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131 USA