Benjamin C. Maxson, Director General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: Sharing can’t be forced. It cannot come from guilt or manipulation. Christ-like sharing is a natural part of a transformed life! Read Ben Maxson’s article on sharing and the five principles to help us learn to share.

It’s mine! When was the first time someone tried to get you to share? ?Johnny, you have two apples and Bobby doesn’t have any. Don’t you want to share?? How often have you heard a statement like this? Why is sharing so challenging?

Sharing comes easily for a very few people, but for most of us, it is neither easy nor simple. Our natural sense of ownership says ?It’s mine and I want to keep it!? Sharing means giving up something that is ours. And a change must occur within us for sharing to become a natural part of living.

Sharing can’t be forced. It cannot come from guilt or manipulation. Christ-like sharing is a natural part of a transformed life! It comes from a ministering lifestyle that reaches out to others to share God’s resources.

He shared in our lives. We can learn a great deal about sharing from the life of Jesus. He began by coming to share in our lives. John states, ?And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth? (Jn 1:14, ESV). The ?word picture? here is of Someone who became one with us, who ?pitched his tent with ours.?

Hebrews 4:15 says that He was ?tempted in every way, just as we are.? So we see that before He could share the blessings of eternal life with us, He had to share in our lives. In fact, His sharing reaches to an even deeper level. He identifies fully with us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Php 2:5-8, ESV).

He shares His resources with us. He also shares His resources with us. Paul says, ?And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus? (Php 4:19, ESV).

As we look at Jesus’ life, we discover that true sharing can only come through and from our relationship with Him. This relationship puts everything else in the right perspective. We realize that we are managing His resources. Things do not belong to us. They are His to be used to His glory. How can we make this practical? Here are five principles to help in learning to share:

1. Accept the wonder of your position in Christ. All heaven’s resources are yours to use in His kingdom. His resources are unlimited. Recognize the abundance of His blessings, especially the physical or material ones.

2. Surrender your sense of ownership. As Christians, we can learn to hold our possessions loosely, recognizing they really belong to God. They are to be shared as He leads us through His Spirit.

3. See others as Jesus did. We can learn to see those around us through the eyes of Jesus Christ.

4. Identify with people around you. Put yourself in the place of others and recognize the solidarity we have as humans—each of us is in need of salvation! Try to see another’s need through your eyes.

5. Ask the Spirit to guide you in using His resources. Look for opportunities to help others, asking the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to their needs.

Sharing extends from a life intimately lived in relationship with God. Yes! We want Johnny to share. But more than this, we want Johnny to discover who he truly is in Jesus, and how he can learn to live a generous life that is guided by God’s Spirit.

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January–March, 2004

Sharing