The heart of the Giver is an interesting piece of work.
One of the things that has amazed me over the years is the Giver’s seeming lack of capacity for bitterness. A typical counseling conversation will start with a generic check of childhood. A Giver will generally report a decent experience.
Later on stories surface of astounding abuse in childhood, but there is no sense of residual pain from that junk.
The standard grid from the psych world says that they must have pain; they have simply stuffed the pain. The therapist’s job then is to get past the layers of denial and help them access the pain in order to be healed.
It is still a theoretical possibility that the Giver tribe in our midst carries as much pain as the rest of us do over life’s events, but they simply stuff it with more skill and more barriers.
However, I lean toward a different scenario and that is that Givers, more than any other tribe, tend to live in the present, not projecting nearly as much of yesterday’s interpersonal problems into the present and future as other tribes do.
One of my reasons for thinking this is that I simply do not find in Israel’s history in Scripture, any admonitions from the Lord to forgive those who have hurt them. Israel had a long and gnarly history of surrounding nations abusing them terribly, but you simply don’t find scoldings from The Almighty (who could see past all the firewalls and knew the essence of their hearts) about forgiving the Philistines for this or that, because bitterness toward them or any other invading nation would make Israel toxic.
So here is a celebration of some of the free money in the Giver tribe. Honors to you, Givers, for living in the present better than most of the rest of us when it comes to relationships. Life is sure to bump us all, including you, but you have great resilience and we celebrate it today.
That said, where does the Giver’s heart need to be cleansed?
There are an abundance of surface issues, but I think the core issue might be found in Deuteronomy 28, in Moses’ great warning of the nation.
“All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you.” Deuteronomy 28:45-48 NIV
You see the same theme developed in God’s diatribe against the priesthood centuries later.
“My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously, says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 1:11-13 NIV
Today, that attitude is expressed in the emails I receive from individuals (not just Givers, for sure!) who want to know what the minimum “tax” is that they have to pay God to either keep Him from getting upset, or to buy His favor for a particular wish list. The short cut syndrome is flagrantly on display in this day and age.
When serving God is seen as a necessary nuisance, rather than a glorious privilege, there is a serious heart problem.
Compare that with the Navy Seals. They compete rigorously to get into one of the most painful programs in the nation, but they do it voluntarily, out of pride of service.
The spirit of consumerism, where everything is seen through the grid of what it will cost us in the short term, is pervasive in the human culture. No tribe is immune from it. Occasionally a great statesman will persuade a generation to sacrifice their comfort for the next generation. More often, it is a depraved despot who does so.
In between those moments of glory or infamy, each culture and each individual chooses whether they will find their highest pleasure in serving themselves or One greater. The fruit of the two choices is manifest in the family line and in the culture.
As we step into the priestly office to wash the feet of the Giver tribe, we must first go by the altar ourselves, and address our own attitudes of seeing God as a burden, rather than embracing service to Him as a high honor.
Copyright December 2015 by Arthur Burk