Matt 10:8-9 Freely you have received, freely give. NIV
You have probably heard this verse before. It is often quoted, especially it seems, when preachers or pastors feel the need to coerce people into parting with their hard earned dollars. That is unfortunate. As with every verse quoted from the Bible, it is important to keep it within it’s context so that it is not misused.
This particular verse comes from Matthew 10. After going through several towns, preaching to people and healing them from all sorts of maladies, Jesus felt compassion for the people. He said they were like sheep without a shepherd. If you know anything about sheep, they do not do well without their shepherd.
It was time for Jesus’ disciples to get a foretaste of how He would be using them in the future. Jesus, knowing that His human body was limited by time and space, had a plan to minister to more people. He would give His disciples the power to do the works that He was doing. He told them to go to the “lost sheep of Israel,” to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons (v8). Quite a list!
That’s the context of the verse, so what is Jesus really saying to them? What was given to them, that they should be giving away freely to the lost sheep of Israel? We are told in verse 7 of chapter ten. “As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'” NIV
This message was specifically directed to the children of Israel because they had long awaited a King. Their prophets had spoken about a King who would assume the throne of David and that of His rule there would be no end (Isa 9:6-7). Jesus wanted them to give this message away. The Kingdom was near because the King was here! They had been partakers of the blessings of the King for a while now. They had done nothing to earn this blessing; it was Jesus who had called them. They had seen him do many wonderful miracles, bringing blessing to all the people.
Jesus was also telling His disciples to give out the same kinds of blessings and He was empowering them to do it. They were to do the same works as He had been doing. Again, they had done nothing to earn that ability so they were to freely give it out. That may sound strange, but during that time there were many who would show demonstrations of power for a price. Not much different than today, is it?
These same men, after Jesus died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven, were empowered by the promised Holy Spirit to do those same kinds of works and preach the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ. It was entirely different from the message that they had heard form their teachers of the law. They had been taught that their hope of being in the eternal kingdom was through the righteousness of keeping the Mosaic Law. That impossible task gave them no hope at all.
That good news message that the disciples were to bring is one of salvation obtained by grace through faith ( Eph 2:8), which is freely given to anyone who would believe (put their trust) in Jesus. (Jn 3:16).
So how should this verse speak to us today? Very simply, we need to give away that same blessing. We have received the free gift of eternal life from that very same King of Israel. He has called us, we have responded to that call. He has empowered us as well to preach the “good news.” You may not be called to be a preacher, but your life is a living testimony to the work of the Living God! May your life reflect all that He is. Jesus put it this way, Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; … and Matt 5:14 "You are the light of the world…
He expects us to “flavor” the world with His love and be the “light” of His truth. Notice He says, “You are” not “You should be.” The only question is, will we be “salty salt,” which brings out the best flavor, or bland and tasteless, that which is of no use? Will we be a “blazing light,” that attracts or a dim one that people will hardly notice?
I pray that we, as believers will be salty and that our lights shine in such a way before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. (Mt 5:14) Freely we have been given, let us freely give!
God bless you