Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
A former colleague of mine often would say the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” Before becoming a Christian, I never gave much thought to this expression. I took this to mean something like the father who tells his son that he will not buy him a car outright but will contribute toward a car if the son saves up his own money to cover a portion of the cost. It is a sensible lesson to teach children to work and earn that which they desire instead of expecting to simply receive it for free. While this may be a great practical lesson for life, it does not apply to the generosity of God for those in need. In fact, Jesus came to serve and to be a sacrifice because we were unable to help ourselves. We could not gain salvation without him. And the generosity of God that brings us free grace and forgiveness is central to the servant’s heart.
Today’s verse looks at several supernatural types of service that we can provide to others. This was part of the instructions that Jesus Christ gave his 12 disciples when He sent them out to serve. When He tells them to give freely, it means at least two things. First, these miracles were to be performed for free. This was no sideshow or stage performance. They were not selling tickets for healings or deliverance, and there was no fee schedule. As Jesus Christ himself raised people from the dead without asking for anything in return, his disciples were to do the same. Another thing this command means is that his disciples were not to try to determine who is or is not deserving of a miracle. There are no conditions attached to these acts of service. The simple instruction was to deliver those who need deliverance and heal those who need healing. There was no restriction to the free distribution of these miraculous. No one was more qualified to receive a miracle than another.
When we serve freely as God requires, we are mirroring his abundantly generous heart toward us. If a hungry man asks me for food, it is not for me to determine whether he deserves that food. It is simply for me to feed him. This is because God has orchestrated my provision not based on whether I deserve it but based simply on his generosity. If God were to give to me as I deserve, I would expect nothing. Speaking specifically of the gift of salvation, we know that none of us could possibly merit that. Our service to others cannot come with such conditions. As we are called to give freely, we are to serve freely as well. Father, thank You for the free gifts You provide without requiring that we earn them, and place in our hearts the same measure of generosity as we serve others.