Receive and Give

bridge over riverDuring a recent sermon, Preacher mentioned the Jordan River and the Dead Sea as an illustration of how people sometimes go to church and receive, but never give what they receive to others.

Preacher explained that unlike the Sea of Galilee, which takes in fresh water from the Jordan River and lets it flow from it, the Dead Sea takes water from the Jordan and holds onto it.

As a result, the Sea of Galilee is vibrant and living, while the Dead Sea is dead. Similarly, if all we do is go to church and receive without allow what we receive to flow from us, we could end up like that Dead Sea.

As I listened to Preacher’s message, I thought about something a friend said years ago about being a Stinky Sponge. If all we do is soak up biblical knowledge like a sponge soaks up water, but don’t ever apply or share it, we’re like a Stinky Sponge. You can read the blog post I wrote about it here.

Preacher ended his message with a poem by Helen Steiner Rice, “The Key to Life and Living”.

The Key to Life and Living

by Helen Steiner Rice


A very favorite story of mine
Is about two seas in Palestine.
One is a sparkling sapphire jewel,
Its waters are clean and clear and cool,
Along its shores children play
And travelers seek it on their way,
And nature gives so lavishly
Her choicest gems to the Galilee.


But to the south the Jordan flows
Into a sea where nothing grows,
No splash of fish, no singing bird,
No children’s laughter is ever heard,
The air hangs heavy all around
And nature shuns this barren ground.


Both seas receive the Jordan’s flow,
The water is just the same, we know,
But one of the seas, like liquid sun,
Can warm the hearts of everyone,
While farther south another sea
Is dead and dark and miserly.


It takes each drop the Jordan brings
And to each drop it fiercely clings.
It hoards and holds the Jordan’s waves
Until like shackled, captured slaves
The fresh, clear Jordan turns to salt
And dies within the Dead Sea’s vault.


But the Jordan flows on rapturously
As it enters and leaves the Galilee,
For every drop that the Jordan gives
Becomes a laughing wave that lives
For the Galilee gives back each drop,
Its waters flow and never stop.


And in the laughing, living sea
That takes and gives so generously
We find the way to Life and Living
Is not in Keeping, But in Giving!


Yes, there are two Palestinian seas
And mankind is fashioned after these!


— Helen Steiner Rice

Preacher asked the following questions.

Do we receive and give, or receive and keep?

Which sea are we like? The Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea?

Stinky Sponge or Dead Sea. Neither is what Jesus calls us to be.

We are called to be his ambassadors. His light to a world in darkness. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet.

We can’t very well do any of that if all we do is receive but never give, now can we?

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As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NIV

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.


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