While Chan shares many thoughts on this subject, I want to focus on one statement in particular that he makes. The reason I want to focus on it is because it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's one sentence, with no other supporting details, lingering on the page: "Non-churchgoers tend to see Christians as takers rather than givers." p. 140
Does that seem a little odd to you? I would be eager to agree that "non-Christians" might tend to find Christians, in general, to be somewhat indifferent... especially in the Western Hemisphere... maybe even self-centered, but takers? I found this all to be extremely curious, so, like always, I did a little research. What I found was HIGHLY enlightening. Now, I'll be the first to admit that what I found most intriguing was the opinion (and subsequent argument) on one specific website...whose authenticity I cannot verify (so I won't post a link here); HOWEVER, I truly found the perspective fascinating...mind opening... convicting!
But, before I get to that, let's take a look at the characteristic Chan lays out for givers:
"People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world (James 2:14-26)." p. 141
So, in my research, I came across this website that laid out some of the obvious differences between Christians that are givers and those that are takers. Here are some of the examples, based on questions and concerns, each might ask when it comes to serving the kingdom:
GIVERS: Are concerned with how things will benefit others; follows the flow with insight and rolls with the punches; bears pain (not necessarily physical) silently and with patience; lives confidently day to day; no time table; committed to others; offers help unconditionally; on spiritual pilgrimage; proactive; reality based; attention is deflected away
TAKERS: Are concerned with how things benefit them; must be "lords" and appear in control; whiners; always finds something to complain about; time and schedules are closely monitored; committed to self; offer help only until angered; resists spiritual transformation; reactive; fantasy driven: "If only..."; attention is desired and sought after (i.e., nice clothes, jewelery, homes, cars)
This is a small sample of the countless comparisons I found on this particular website. As I read through the list, I began to understand that the concept of "taker" wasn't literal. I have to admit, when I first read Chan's passage, I had this mental image of someone sitting in church taking money out of the offering plate instead of putting money in! I knew this wasn't what he meant, but my mind went there anyway. This whole "giver-taker" comparison isn't about giving and taking what belongs to others...it's about giving and taking WHAT IS GOD'S! It's about selfish motivations over God-centered, kingdom- minded motivations.
As I sit here, in the stillness of my house, I can't help but confront the blaring reality: being a Christian doesn't automatically make us a giver. Unfortunately, I know many Christians that possess a large majority of the "taker-characteristics"... I possess quite a few of them myself! Yet, over the past six months, I can honestly say that I've noticed a change in this area... a change that I can only attribute to the Gospel. Now, I know that some people roll their eyes when they hear people tell them they just need to crack open the Bible and start reading in order to experience change in their lives... but I'm here to say that it's true... (AND I WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST SKEPTICS!!!!) I look at the list of characteristics for takers and can't help but think that it's almost insurmountable! Some of those characteristics, at least in my life, are the result of YEAR AND YEARS of conditioning... deeply ingrained. To undo them would take a miracle... thank goodness, God's in that business!
Do you consider yourself to be a "giver" or a "taker"? Look over some of the characteristics again and spend some time thinking about this today. Any strongholds you might have... give over to God. Only He has the power to change us!