Regifting

Matthew 10:8 “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Do you believe in “regifting”? Before anyone had even coined the term I had had some interesting experiences with it. When my wife and I got married, we received a number of small kitchen appliances, including five woks. Now, we like stir fries and Chinese food, just not quite that much. A few of them we took back to stores. We traded them in for other things we needed, like a toaster. But in addition to the one we used, for some reason we saved one more. We kept it in its original packaging, maybe to serve as a backup or a spare if the one we used stopped working.

About a year later a friend of ours was getting married. We didn’t have so much money then, but we had this extra wok. So we wrapped it up and gave it away as a wedding present. Only afterwards did it occur to us that we had probably left the original wedding card to us from the original giver in the box. We always wondered if our newly wed friends found it, and what they thought.

If we Christians understand the true source of our spiritual gifts and resources, then we know that any giving we do involves “regifting.” Paul asks the Corinthians in his first letter to them, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (4:7). Martin Luther’s last words were, “We are beggars, that is true.” All that we have and all that we are is a gift to us from God.

That means that all that we give is a matter of “regifting” what we have been given. There is no way around that fact for those who know their Creator and Redeemer.

Jesus connected this to the mission on which he sent his disciples. After a year or more of teaching, he was sending them on their first preaching tour. They went with gifts freely received from Jesus. First was the message they were to preach. This was a message that had gripped their own hearts first, had its way with them, and changed them. They hadn’t been looking for it. Jesus came looking for them, found them, and chose them to listen, believe, and spread the news. It all came freely. It was a gift.

Second, Jesus gave them power and authority to support their preaching tour. Disease, death, even demons would submit to them and to their words. This was not the work of magic spells they had discovered and practiced. They received power from on high. It was a gift they had freely received.

“Freely you have received.” Our faith, our gifts, aren’t so different. In one way or another the gift of the gospel freely found its way into your life. For some, our parents were sharing this gift when reading Bible stories to us or saying bedtime prayers with us almost before we could talk. Some stumbled on it quite by accident when they were looking for a place to be married, perhaps, and randomly chose a church. There are some who unsuspectingly answered a knock on the door one evening, and before the night was over forgiveness and life came flooding into their lives, and Jesus had found a permanent home in their hearts. It is a gift, pure and simple. Freely you have received.

On top of that, don’t overlook the way in which Jesus has freely blessed us with all that we need for body and life. By and large we have been gifted with more money and more stuff than any people in the history of the world. Not a single one of us created our own set of skills, or invented the nation or the economy that makes such wealth possible. Like our faith and the gospel that supports it, it is all a gift. Freely you have received.

Then comes the regifting. ‘Freely you have received. Freely give.” Don’t be content that you have received the gospel. Give it away! Here is a little boy or girl who needs to know Jesus as much as you or I ever did. Chances are they will be growing up in a world where open attacks on their faith are going to be more and more acceptable than they were when you were that age. Give them a chance! Be the parent or grandparent and teach them that word yourself. Support Christian schools and Sunday schools which can be their gospel oasis in a dry and dusty desert.

Give it away! Sacrifice your time, and set aside your treasure so that the church can have the resources it needs to do mission work in your community and around the world. I know it isn’t cheap. I know it consumes a lot of man hours. But the cost of failing to pass the gospel on is far costlier. That cost is measured in souls, not dollars. For the love of Christ and for the love of his children, put your God-given resources to work in this mission, and don’t let the gospel light die out with us.

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