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How long can you hold your breath? 30, 45, 70 seconds? I used to sit on the couch with a stopwatch and see if I could break my record. When you hold your breath, your body sends you major signals that something is wrong. You try as hard as possible, but eventually you have to breathe in again.
Because giving and receiving is a natural part of life.
Both are necessary.
When we give, give, give, and give while never being willing to receive, we become exhausted.
When we receive, receive, receive, and receive, there still feels like there is something is missing.
We must breathe in, but we must also learn to breathe out.
Some go their entire life just breathing out.
They work, labor, and pour themselves out for everyone and everything around them. When others try to do good things for them, they turn them away. This kind of life may seem appealing to those who are prone to serving others, but it is mentally and spiritually exhausting.
Others spend all their time breathing in. They receive and take from others, maybe even steal, without ever thinking to return the favor or pass it on. This path may appeal to those who understand they have a lot of needs, and there is nothing wrong with having needs. But this type of breathe-in lifestyle isn’t really fulfilling; it offers a false sense of security.
It takes both breathing in and out to have life and to give life.
Because when we breathe out, we aren’t just serving our own needs; we are giving the gift of Carbon Dioxide to the plants that supply us with Oxygen. This cycle of giving and receiving is a perfect example of the relationship between the Father and the Son as seen in Paul’s writings.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:5–11
There is an eternal flow of love between the Father and the Son. The Son pours out everything for the creation, but the Father quickly replaces what the Son pours out through the Spirit.
This is true for our relationship with God as well. He pours out His love for us through the Son, which gives us the confidence to “have this attitude” in ourselves. We can then pour ourselves out to others to glorify God, knowing that in whatever ways we humble ourselves, God is there to lift us up.
In a congregation, there are those who only breathe in, and there are others who only breathe out. Those who only breathe out feel lonely because they are acutely aware of the inaction of those who only breathe in. At the same time, those who breathe out may not even want the help of others and may enjoy the exclusive role they hold. Those who only breathe in may wonder why nothing gets done, but they don’t have the willingness to do anything themselves.
In order for a congregation to experience growth, everyone must equally participate in the flow of giving and receiving.
If we neglect the plants by withholding CO2, then we will no longer receive the benefit of their Oxygen. We will die, and they will starve.
The rhythm of giving and receiving is a necessary part of creation. If we move away from that balance in our personal lives, businesses, families, or congregations, then there will be no real growth or progress.
Look at your life. Are you prone to breathing in our out? What ways can you work on striking the necessary balance?