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Give and Take

Following God’s will is always risky because it is a supernatural journey that cannot be accomplished by human ingenuity or strength. That is why we call it a walk of faith. We take the risk of obeying even though we recognize it is impossible on our own. As a faithful partner, God gives the resources to actually do what He has asked us to do.
Daniel is yet another example of how this principle works. He and his friends took the risk of obeying God when it came to eating differently than the other men they were competing with. In response, “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.” (Daniel 1:17) God gave them what they needed to succeed. The implication was that their own abilities were not enough. They were going to be asked to do things that were beyond human intellect and strength. But, the answers were not out of reach because God was willing to give them the resources.
Daniel is an extreme example of the principle because he was chosen to change history but our challenges are no less remarkable. We are all asked, on a daily basis, to do things that are beyond our human capabilities. Galatians 5 spells this out for us. “Stand firm.” (v. 1) “Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.” (v. 13) “Serve one another humbly in love.” (v. 13) “You, my brothers and sister, were called to be free.” (v. 13) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 14) I don’t know about you but, when I try to do these do things out of sheer will, I am sporadically successful. I can do them for a little while but then I either lose focus, lose the will or get so frustrated with the people I am trying to serve that I give up.
Fortunately, God is willing to give the resources. “Walk by the Spirit . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (v. 16, 22, 23) As I take the risk to stand, serve, and love freely (without conditions or self-imposed expectations) God gives me the personal character and resolve I need to stay the course and pull it off.
I need to be reminded of this often. Intellectually, I know I live in a world of brokenness but I keep forgetting that when it comes to doing business and interacting with people. Getting business done is challenging with seemingly endless obstacles to overcome. Caring about people just seems to expose their weaknesses and stubbornness. I know this but I still expect it to be different. When I am focused on my abilities, I want people to be easier to deal with and business to fall together with less effort. As a result, it is always a choice of faith to stand with people, serve them humbly and love them despite their imperfections. I am just thankful that the Holy Spirit is committed to give me what I need to stay in the race.
Jesus, thank you for being an active partner in life who gives.

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