Years ago, my good friend Jody once came across this saying, "All that is not given is lost" and texted it to me, saying that it reminded her of mine and Hamish's philosophy on life. I can't remember the philosopher she quoted in the text or the source, but google tells me that Mother Teresa said something very similar. As did some sage Indian proverb writers.
I had entirely forgotten about that text until yesterday morning. I was thinking about our tendency to withhold blessing from other people. That's esoteric Christian jargon perhaps, but what I mean is our reluctance to compliment others, our unwillingness commend others for fear that we somehow might lose face in doing so. We are a competitive culture. An ambitious lot of people driven on by need to reach goals and fear that others might prevent us from doing so. It seems a very costly thing to point out that someone else is really good at something - especially if such a thing is a thing that you think you're good at or long to be good at - lest somehow you might be depleted by such an act. I hope I'm not alone in experiencing this phenomenon. It is something that I very much dislike about myself: a withholding of love, a refusal to fully celebrate because of jealousy and insecurity.
And such a thing is entirely contrary to the Kingdom economics that Jesus lays down: all that is not given is lost. Moreover, giving is actually better for us. To give away not only our money and our time but our encouragement, our compliments, our observations of others' success, is to create a contagious culture of giving away that looks a little bit like heaven. It is better to give than to receive. All that we give is noticed by the king even if no one else takes note (Matthew 6:4). There are no losses in the kingdom. We only finally lose what we try too hard to cling on to. (Mark 8:36)
It is hard though. Something in me finds it so hard to fully love others for fear that I might be forgotten - that by pointing out what is great in them, others might fail to see anything good in me. This is, I recognise, pretty stupid. But I'm just being honest. I pray today for Jesus' view of living: to live fully is to give open handedly and with abandon. And so, give away. Give everything at every opportunity; give your spare coat (Luke 3:11), your possessions (Luke 12:33), your encouragement (Hebrews 3:13), your attention, your time, your love, your very life. Give in every way knowing that He promises to replenish what is spent (2 Corinthians 4:16). For nothing is accidentally spilled and wasted in the kingdom; it's deliberately poured out. (Philippians 2:17, 2 Timothy 4:6)