This week I have found myself struggling with a couple of things I had been told through the years. They are "Don't be a door mat and let people walk all over you" and "Don't let people take advantage of you". These sayings mean the same thing. Know when people are just using you and don't let them do it. My question has always been when do you reach that point? How do you know when you are being taken advantage of and when you are simply being gracious and going the extra mile? And when you do reach that point what do you do?
God has used a child to teach me that these sayings are wrong. They go against what God teaches us. I thought that I was being taken advantage of this week. I thought that this child's mom was taking advantage of me by constantly sending her child over here to play. When my girls would ask to go play at the other child's house the answer was always no with some excuse attached to it. So it lead me to believe, since the child was here from late morning until bed time, that I was being used. Even though this child is one of the best behaved most wonderful kids you'd ever want to know, it bothered me to think I was being used. But I couldn't bring myself to say no. It didn't feel right.
Today I found out that there has been turmoil in this child's home. Coming to play at our house was an escape from it. I learned a very humbling and hard lesson. I need to be willing to be taken advantage of. I need to give freely, of whatever I have, and in this case it was my peaceful home for a refuge. This lesson was hard and humbling for me because I normally have no problem giving or being hospitable. It broke my heart that I had missed what was right in front of me, a child who needed a peaceful place to be. I normally don't miss things like that but God wanted to answer my questions. There is no being taken advantage of if what you are giving is given freely because God has freely given to you.
I share all of this because those sayings I mentioned earlier have been lies I unknowingly believed for years. It saddens me and I am sure there are others who have believed them as well. But the truth is that because we have been loved in the most lavish way and have received the most extravagant gift of salvation, we are to give to others with the same abandon and without hesitation. Matthew 10:8 says, "Freely you have received; freely give."
Will you join with me as I choose to live out what God's Word says and freely give? There are times when it will be tiring and if we give like He does, it will be costly. But it will always be worth it. I know because today there is a child playing in my house without a care in the world, enjoying being an honorary member of our family. And as this child watches our family interact, pray before meals, and live life together God's love will be evident and hopefully that same child will want a relationship with Him.