The Power of Being a Giver
Ken Larkin is a biblical counselor here at Pure Life. Ken, I think it's really important that we're able to share with people from time to time some key ways they can fight sexual temptation. So, I want to ask you to share this concept that I know you find really important for people to understand as a counselor--this idea of being a giver. I think that honestly when I say that phrase while we're discussing the topic of sexual sin people might have a hard time making that connection initially, so, to start off can you tell us just basically what you have in mind when you talk about that phrase being a giver.
Yeah, it means the basic flow of your life is outward toward others, instead of being consumed with what I can get for myself. That I'm more concerned about others and their needs and what's important to them.
OK, I think I'm following that. Now, right at the outset, this seems like something that is totally the opposite of what we see in the culture here in America. Would you say that's true?
Absolutely. Yeah, everything in our culture is catered toward self and toward getting something that you desire.
Now I know there's a lot of other important spiritual disciplines that somebody has to have in their life in order to stay free. I mean, they have to have basic walk with God, Bible reading, prayer, we know all of those things. But in what you've seen in the Bible and in your own counseling, how important is this teaching of being a giver in relationship to a person's spiritual life?
I believe it's extremely important because true spirituality is about being godly, or God-like. And God himself is a giver. The Scriptures say in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave..." He gave his Son and you can't have a true walk with God or any true spirituality without the element of giving. The whole ministry of Jesus was to give his life away for others. Everything he did was focused on meeting the needs of others and ultimately the cross was all about meeting the needs of others. So if we're going to call ourselves a Christian and not live the way Jesus lived--that's called hypocrisy. Giving is a huge, central theme in the Christian life.
Ken, I would bet that sometimes you must have counselees that say, "Yeah, I hear what you're saying about giving, but my big problem is I'm looking at pornography." Or "I just have all these lustful thoughts that won't go away, how is this going to help me?" If guys just aren't making the connection between sexual sin and giving, what do you tell them?
I tell them that sexual sin revolves around someone's desires--its coveting lust--because it's the desire to get something for self. The idea of being a giver is the opposite flow of that. It's that you are more concerned with what you can give to other people. In your inner life you can't have a flow that is headed outward and a flow that is headed inward at the same time. One of those is going to take precedence. So, if you actually learned to become a giver, it's going to undermine the selfishness that fuels your addiction. But if you don't deal with that at that fundamental level, then you may even overcome your addiction in some respects, but it's going to manifest itself in some other way.
Well that does help to clear it up a little bit. So, from here can you give us some practical ideas about becoming a giver. If they are starting to realize that they are selfish and they need to make some changes, but they don't know where to start, what would tell them?
One of the keys we've found about learning to become a giver is the simplicity of just learning to pray for other people. You know, even in our prayers we can be selfish and self-focused. But, if you learn to pray for other people, God will begin to change your heart toward others. Yes, their needs will be met, but you're going to be changed also and you're going to become less selfish by learning to give in that way.
OK, so you highlighted prayer as a good place to start. What would be some other things?
Along with prayer, I would encourage someone to begin focusing more on others. If you can learn to be a servant and give your life away for the sake of others like Jesus did, that will go a long way in undermining that selfishness the fuels your addiction. Some practical examples? Find a need and fill it. In your own home, maybe doing chores for your wife or helping your parents or whatever the case may be around the house. You can begin right in your own home, doing something you wouldn't normally do. Just serve other people! You can volunteer in your local church, you can go to a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter and volunteer. You can visit the elderly in nursing home or volunteer in a local jail ministry. There's really no limit because the needs are out there it's just finding a need and filling it.
And I would encourage them to make this a lifestyle. Don't have the mindset that this is just going to be a pet project. Learn to become a giver as a lifestyle in the practical outworkings of your everyday life.
Ken, I know you came out of sexual sin yourself and for years now you've been counseling others who are seeking freedom. This teaching--about becoming a giver--can you tell us a little bit about the changes you've seen.
I've seen men come into the program that seemed hopeless. They were totally given over to sexual sin, some for decades! And just by simply learning to be a giver, their lives were totally changed and set free through the power of the Gospel and through Jesus Christ. Because they were learning to be a doer of the word and to put basic things into practice. And in my own life, you know, I've been radically set free. It's amazing what God can do if we're just willing to cooperate with him and do what he says in His word.
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