Jesus says: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Mathew 5, 42)

 

Dear readers,

 

In Germany we distinguish between possession and ownership. Let me explain this: if I borrow a book from the Frankfurt public library, I can keep it for four weeks. It's in my possession, but it's not mine. It belongs to the library. If I rent a bicycle for two weeks during holidays, I own it for my excursions. But it's not mine. I have to return it after the contract period. Otherwise it's stolen. What I've borrowed, I'm supposed to return it in the same way in which I got it.

 

Is your whole life on loan? The German entertainer Heinz Schenk ( + 2014) had the following song: "It's all just borrowed". The song starts like this: "It's all just borrowed here in this beautiful world. It is all only borrowed, all wealth, all money. It's all only borrowed, every hour full of happiness. If you have to go one day, you have to leave it all behind."

 

Although I am not really a fan of this entertainer, I discover a biblical truth in these lines. Everything is on God's loan. For example, we have health, but it is not ours. Sometimes it is taken away from us very quickly. We have wealth. It too can be taken from us very quickly. We live in peace, but it can be taken from us. We live in happiness, and we can lose it from one hour to the next. Everything is only borrowed for a limited time.

 

Small village churches are often surrounded by cemeteries. Those who go to church on Sundays have to pass graveyards first of all. This reminds us that life does not last forever. It´s rather time borrowed. Time borrowed from God.

 

In the parable of the entrusted money (Gospel of Luke, chap. 19, 11 f) Jesus reminds us to treat the gifts which God has entrusted on us in a responsible manner. These include not only money and possessions, health and peace. It also includes the special gifts of the Holy Spirit. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. Different kinds of services are all coming from the same God. There are different kinds of capabilities, but in all of them and in everyone the same God is at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12, 4 – 7)

 

God provides these gifts. We are privileged to own them. They are temporary gifts. But they are not meant for ourselves, they are for the benefit of others. God gives them to us so that our whole community   can benefit from them. With that in mind, I understand Jesus' words, "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Because everything is only given to me on a temporary basis, I am supposed to share it with others. Because it is not my property and because I only possess it, I should generously share my gifts with others.

 

Unfortunately I cannot pass on parts of my health for example to a sick person. Naturally this is just not possible. But I can share my time and strength with the sick person. I can comfort. I may use every gift that God gives me for others. I may share with others everything which God's Spirit gives me.

 

God gives abundantly! So that we can do good deeds to others. So that we can relieve a need. Because God is generous, so should we! What we have is on loan. So let's use the time. Let us use the gifts God gives us.

 

What we give to other people, we sometimes get back in a completely different way. I got some things back through a word of gratitude. Through shining eyes. A silent embrace. Those were moments of happiness.

 

I encourage you to become a cheerful giver: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9, 7)

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© 2020 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main