Recently I received a very generous personal gift. Needless to say I was extremely grateful and somewhat overwhelmed, but that was just part of my reaction. I instinctively wanted to return the favor, even if only with a small token gift in return.
We’ve all been in similar situations when we’re invited to a great party, dinner, or event. It’s only proper and necessary to reciprocate somehow. That, friends, is a foretaste of God’s economy in Heaven. Let me explain.
We all live in community and as such perform services that benefit others. In this earthly economy, we get paid for such services with money. For example we agree that I will paint your house for a certain fee. Providing the service creates a subsequent payment obligation. Pre-payment for the service creates a subsequent obligation to perform. In either case, discharge of that obligation is “guaranteed” by compulsion through the law. Someone who doesn’t pay his employee goes to jail. Someone who takes money and then doesn’t provide the service goes to jail.
Thus the earthly enforcement mechanism is force, and the medium of exchange is money. See blog titled “Money.” We create many laws to regulate the exchange of money and services – commonly known as commerce – to try and make the system “fair”, but we are doomed to failure. There will always be some who take advantage of others or abuse the system.
In God’s economy in Heaven we will also perform services that benefit others. Jesus was absolutely clear about that in His teaching. But the unit of exchange will be different. The unit of exchange will be the gift itself, not money. Whereas on earth we are motivated to do things that collect money for our own benefit, in God’s economy we will be motivated to do things that provide a benefit to others without regard to our personal benefit: We will give gifts out of love, not greed. We will delight in giving gifts to each other, but these won’t be like the unwanted birthday presents here on Earth. They will perfectly fulfill a need the recipient has and they will be provided by a giver uniquely qualified to fulfill that need. Then, as on earth today, the recipient of the gift will want to reciprocate by fulfilling a need the giver has that is best met by the recipient. Thus the unit of exchange in God’s economy will be the gift itself, not its perceived “value.” The transaction will be like the gift I received and my subsequent desire to return the favor for that generous gift – not at all like a contract on earth.
How do I know this? Jesus proved it with his death on The Cross. He gave us a gift of immeasurable value out of love because He lives in God’s economy, not earth’s economy. The question is, where do we live and how do we respond to such a lavish gift? We have nothing to offer of any value in return but ourselves – and even that is as filthy rags! But He will accept whatever we offer. The question is, will we accept it and respond, or simply ignore His gift?
There is a saying about gifts, “It’s the thought that counts…” Well, that’s not exactly true here on earth, but it will be true in Heaven. If I receive a lavish gift on earth, I’m expected to reciprocate in kind. In heaven all gifts will be lavish because they will perfectly meet a need and be given in love; similarly all reciprocal gifts will be perfect because they will perfectly meet a need and be given in love. How do I know? Because God is perfect, and everything, including each gift, is perfect wherever He is. Jesus proved that, too: He provided the perfect gift that only He could give, the only one we desperately need just to survive and live. His lavish gift is a foretaste of God’s economy in Heaven. What is your response?