Lesson 9: Victory: A Matter of Take and Give

“There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24).

Do you like guessing games? Try to guess what place I’m thinking about: It’s one of the saltiest lakes in the world. You can float on its surface without trying. It used to be called the “stinky sea.”

Give up? I’m talking about the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea is a big, salty lake in Israel. The Dead Sea has no outlets. Because of this, all the minerals that come into the sea have nowhere to go, so the water just gets saltier and saltier. The sea is so incredibly salty that nothing can live in it.

The same thing can happen to us spiritually. Learning about Jesus and how to serve Him is a good thing. But if we never share what we learn, we will eventually become spiritually dead, stinky, and, ultimately, completely powerless against temptation. Sharing is vital for a vibrant spiritual life.

“The son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus was always thinking about others and how He could help His neighbor. That’s why He was willing to come to this terrible earth to die for you and me. It’s this spirit of self-sacrificing love that makes Heaven beautiful and happy, and it’s this same spirit that God wants us to have.

Think for a moment of the love of the Father for us in sending Jesus to die. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).

God sent Jesus, and Jesus willingly came, to die for people who hated Him! This love is beyond comprehension! It “passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19)!

When we’ve tasted of God’s love, we become debtors to those who haven’t experienced such a matchless treasure (Romans 1:14, 15). “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). The moment we understand something of God’s great love towards us, God enlists us to share that love, whether by word or by act, with someone else.

But what if I don’t feel motivated to help other people?

There is only one solution: Look at Jesus. Spend time with Him in His Word. Ask Him to give you His Spirit of love for others (This is a prayer He always answers; Galatians 5:22; Luke 11:9–13). Read about Jesus’ death on the cross. Think about all He suffered and gave up to save hurting people. The more you look at Jesus’ crucifixion, the more you will understand just how much every person is worth, and the more you will desire to join Jesus in His work of helping other people.

And by helping other people, we are helped, too! Helping other people makes us happy. It deepens our relationship with Christ. And it is the very best way to become strong to resist temptation.

Have you ever exercised for a while, but then stopped later? If so, you know that it becomes harder and harder to do the same exercises that you used to find easy. This happens because our muscles have to get used to exercising again. Spiritual muscles work the same way. They are strengthened by exercise and weakened by inactivity. We exercise our muscles by helping others.

“Strength comes by exercise; activity is the very condition of life. … Thus the Christian who will not exercise his God-given powers not only fails to grow up into Christ, but he loses the strength that he already had” (Steps to Christ, 80).

Thankfully, God doesn’t ask us to do the equivalent of a 300-lb. bench-press on day one. He only asks us to share what we have. Did you learn something new in your devotions? Share it with someone. Do you see someone who looks discouraged? Encourage them with a Bible promise. Is there a hungry man on the street? Give him some food.

You see, God only expects us to use what we have to the best of our ability. If your best seems insignificant, remember that God likes to use small things to do big jobs. God will combine His power with your effort when you give your best.

Don’t be discouraged if you encounter difficulty. Pray and work. Trust God and He will take care of the results.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).

Activity: Share Your Blessings

Think of something simple that you can do to share God’s love with someone you know. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Memorize a Bible text and over the next week share it with at least five people who need encouragement. (Three of them can’t be family.)
  • Write a letter of encouragement sharing what God is teaching you right now and send it to someone who you think will find it helpful, too.