The Life You Were Born to Give: Why It's Better to Live than to Receive

The Life You Were Born to Give: Why It's Better to Live than to Receive

by David H. McKinley

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Everything we have we've been given. Even our very lives are a gift from God, given so we can live to give, not live to get. Yet it is our tendency in life to absorb, to take in without distribution resulting in a "souring" of all that is good and a separation from all that is intended.

In The Life You Were Born to Give, David


Everything we have we've been given. Even our very lives are a gift from God, given so we can live to give, not live to get. Yet it is our tendency in life to absorb, to take in without distribution resulting in a "souring" of all that is good and a separation from all that is intended.

In The Life You Were Born to Give, David McKinley helps readers shift their focus from getting all they can out of life to giving their lives away, for Christ. Guiding them through the book of Romans, the transformational message includes:

  • A Life Delivered (Romans 1-11)
  • A Life Devoted (Romans 12: 1-2)
  • A Life Distributed (Romans 12-16)

"Recommended for readers looking for a basic approach to spiritual growth." -Don Morgan, Aspiring Retail

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this study of the biblical book of Romans, McKinley urges us to shift our focus away from getting whatever we can out of life to giving our lives away. "God intends for us to become catalysts for distribution, not containers for consolidation," he explains. He divides his study into three sections: our need for God, our need to extend God's grace to others and practical ways to live the life we "were born to give." McKinley liberally quotes others and uses historic and current events and positive personal stories to make his points. However, his chapters feel like a series of sermonettes ("Are you discouraged today?"), with all the predictable sound bites. The advice that McKinley, a Southern Baptist pastor, offers is what you'd expect: he calls for placing God in the center of our lives, practicing baptism by immersion, putting aside homosexuality, paying a full tithe, living in love, finding our gifts and using those gifts for others. Some Christians may find his short discussion on alcohol overly conservative, and the long list of people he is grateful to belongs in the acknowledgments. Still, many Christian readers will find his key point compelling: "When you learn to give, you learn to live." (Feb. 6) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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the life you were born to give

why it's better to live than to receive
By David H. McKinley

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2007 David H. McKinley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-1202-3

Chapter One

a global system failure

The words System Failure jumped off the cover in bold, neon yellow letters as I thumbed through an array of weekly newsmagazines. I pulled the September 19, 2005, issue of Time from the disorderly stack to examine the cover more closely.

The picture depicted the "crash and burn" of a computer shutdown. However, the cover story was not about computers; it was an investigation into the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Photo after photo, tragic scenes were displayed. One by one, people in positions of responsibility were assessed. And page by page, the shame of the fallout was told.

Without a doubt, Katrina not only ravaged the Gulf Coast; it rocked America. Yet for all the physical devastation caused by the massive hurricane, the greatest destruction was the tragic aftermath, which revealed the ugly truth about human nature.

In a special message he preached to his church just weeks after Katrina, Max Lucado aptly describes the scene: "We saw humanity at its best. And we saw humanity at its worst.... We are a people of both dignity and depravity. The hurricane blew back more than roofs; it blew the mask off the nature of mankind. The main problem in the world is not Mother Nature, but human nature.Strip away police barricades, blow down the fences, and the real self is revealed. We are barbaric to the core."

Failed expectations. Abuses of power. Undelivered promises. Disrespect for others. Disregard for the law. Every page of the Time article revealed the storm and fury lurking in the heart of every man and woman. And what was revealed in the aftermath of Katrina is what the Bible depicts in the aftermath of Adam and Eve.

The Tragedy in the Garden

The story of beginnings, which we read in Genesis, tells of the wonder, honor, and glory of God's creative work on earth. But only three chapters into this story, we read of the devastation caused by a single event that transformed the glory of creation into the shame of human rebellion. It is what theologians refer to as the Fall.

Just days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana coast, Al Mohler observed that the origins of sin and destruction could be traced all the way back to the book of Genesis. In his daily weblog, he writes, "Genesis three tells the story of the Fall, a story that centers in the volitional, willful act of Adam and Eve to break the command of God, and to do that which the Lord had forbidden. Giving themselves to temptation, they rationalized their desires, justified their action in their own eyes, and ate the fruit that was forbidden them." He goes on to say, "When humans sinned, not only did it affect Adam and Eve and their descendants, but the earth-the cosmos itself-was corrupted."

And so declares the apostle Paul in the book of Romans. The opening chapters of Romans reveal a dark, distasteful, and direct condemnation of mankind in the wake of the storm of sin. The tragedy that occurred in the Garden of Eden resulted in the fallen condition of creation and the complete corruption of the human race.

No One Is Exempt

In Romans 1, Paul describes this global system failure. He declares that the devastating consequences of sin affect the whole world and everyone in it. None can escape the responsibility and results of this global shutdown. No nation. No city. No family. No person.

The Time magazine article called four government officials into account for their actions in response to Hurricane Katrina. But Paul calls every person in this world into account when he says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20).

And in case we think that somehow we are exempt from this corruption, Paul makes it clear that God's condemnation applies to every member of the human race: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

The fallen state of humanity is the result of a total system failure that had global consequences and personal responsibility. Sin has marred God's design. Sin has captured man's will. Sin has brought judgment upon us all. This is the primary assessment and condition of every culture, of every race, of every person on the planet: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

To fall short means to fail to meet the standard, to fail to attain the goal, to fail to achieve the function for which it was created. Sin has caused a global system failure, and we all need to be delivered from the corrupting power and penalty of this system if we are ever going to truly live the life we were born to give.

Our Only Hope

Life without God is the antithesis of everything we are made for. Therefore, all we have to do is review the assessment of human behavior to understand why our only hope in the aftermath of the Fall is deliverance.

Dr. H. L. Willmington, in his excellent Guide to the Bible, describes a scene and presents a "court record" of offenses between "the Supreme Creator of the Universe versus His Sinful Creatures." At the bench of justice, we all stand guilty as charged in the Supreme Court of heaven.

Dr. Willmington outlines ten charges presented in a detailed indictment against the human race in Romans 1. God's fierce wrath is revealed against all ungodliness (sins against God's person) and unrighteousness (sins against His will). The "top ten" list is as follows:

1. They held down (suppressed) the truth (1:18).

2. They knew God but did not honor Him as God (1:21).

3. They were unthankful (1:21).

4. They presented foolish speculations (1:21).

5. They allowed their hearts to become darkened (1:21).

6. They thought themselves to be wise but became fools (1:22).

7. They preferred idols to the living God and exchanged His glory for beasts (1:23).

8. They gave their bodies over to sexual perversions (1:26-27).

9. They were filled with unrighteous acts (1:29-32).

10. They knew the seriousness of their crimes but still continued and even encouraged others to join them (1:8-32).

In the end, the verdict is read: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). This statement of fact and this verdict of justice is essential if we are to honor the character of God-the Supreme Judge-and escape the terror of our personal judgment.

Listen to how Dr. Willmington describes this scene: "After the Judge has carefully heard all of the evidence and patiently listened to all of the pleas, he finds no other choice but to invoke the supreme penalty, lest true justice be denied. But before the terrible sentence can be carried out, this same Judge quietly closes the case book, lays down the heavenly gavel, rises to his feet, takes off his judicial robes, and goes out to die for the convicted defendants. This and this alone is justification."

Before we can experience the life we were born to live (and ultimately to give), we must first understand our own capture in the system failure of sin. If we cannot be delivered from this failure, we will not fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

For this reason, I close with a final thought from Max Lucado: "When the Katrinas of life blow in, our true nature is revealed and our deepest need is unveiled: a need deeper than food, more permanent than firm levees. We need, not a new system, but a new nature. We need to be changed from the inside out."

I agree. But before we begin our discovery of deliverance, we must go one step further in our discussion of this system failure. We must understand why deliverance will never come through our best efforts to reorganize or rebuild the old system.

Chapter Two

the ultimate injustice

Edward Cashman was appointed as a criminal court judge to uphold the laws of the state of Vermont and to protect its citizens. But on January 4, 2006, Judge Cashman handed down a ruling that sent chills down the spines of law enforcement officials and turned the stomachs of parents across the nation. Judge Edward Cashman ruled that Mark Hulett spend sixty days-not sixty years, not sixty months, but only sixty days!-in prison for the repeated rape and molestation of a young girl that started when she was seven and continued over a four-year period.

State prosecutors argued for a minimum eight-year jail sentence. But Cashman, using the full authority of his position on the bench, refused to increase the convicted rapist's jail term, stating, "The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't resolve anything. It just corrodes your soul."

As I read these words, I was stunned that a judge could find a moralizing basis for tolerance but could not find the moral fortitude to execute the law. It seems to me that this judge traded the responsibility entrusted to him at the bench along with his robes of justice for a counselor's couch and a bully pulpit. And I must admit that from the perspective of a preacher, this was one of the poorest messages I have ever heard.

The problem at the core of this situation was that Cashman was a judge-a trustee of the rights and penalties of the law for the citizens of his community, both families and individuals. Cashman held this trust of law enforcement and judicial responsibility on behalf of the people of Vermont. Yet while this judge was chastising the prosecution and preaching to the victims, what were the physical, emotional, and destructive effects of his actions on the lives of the young girl and her family?

The judge's ruling-or lack thereof-sparked a wildfire of responses so great that the e-mail of Vermont governor Jim Douglas was overloaded and shut down. People across America were shocked and outraged as this story emerged. News talk and legal broadcasts berated and bantered the issue for days. Even Bill O'Reilly took the gloves off as he reviewed the case in his "no spin zone." Gratefully, the governor had the good sense and courage to call for Judge Cashman's resignation.

The overwhelming public pressure and outcry resulted in a change of direction when Cashman finally consented to a three-year sentence before leaving the bench. He said he increased Hulett's sentence only because the state would extend treatment to the known sexual predator while in prison.

Our Innate Sense of Justice

The reason for the passionate furor sparked by the Mark Hulett case is the innate sense of justice we feel when we see such foolish obstruction of law and order in the criminal justice system. We know that such victimization of a child and violation of criminal laws should be met with decisive consequence. But in this case, a judge single-handedly replaced the rule of law with his own personal opinion, and the result was gross injustice.

Without a doubt, the American court system will struggle to survive if judicial opinion replaces law as the basis for civil order. No society can survive if justice is in the eye of the beholder. According to Scripture, that was the condition of life in Israel in the days of the judges, a time when "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 17:6). The result was chaos and corruption. The purpose of the law is to establish an unbiased standard of safety for those who abide and penalty for those who violate.

But for all the harmful, ugly, and distasteful results of injustice we see in our world, there is a far greater picture of injustice in the court of heaven.

God's Radical Injustice: The Guilty Go Free

In Romans 5:8, Paul describes God's judicial system this way: "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Here is the ultimate injustice: Jesus, the sinless Son of God, died to pay the penalty of your sin and mine in order that we might be delivered from sin's curse and condemnation and be set free to live the life God intended.

In God's judicial system, the guilty go free. This is not because of the failed order or character of the judge, but because of an act of love and grace that fulfilled the highest standard of the law and yet released the most undeserving of sinners: you and me. This seeming injustice-prompted by love-satisfies the highest standard of God's righteousness and allows sinners like you and me to live under the canopy of His mercy and grace.

The apostle Peter understood the mercy of God and the justice of God equally satisfied in Christ. In 1 Peter 3:18, he wrote, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit."

This is the wonder of God's amazing grace. It is the mercy of God in action. Because of Christ and His death on our behalf, we have been forgiven. We are free from the penalty and consequence of the law. God fulfilled justice through the death of Christ. God extended grace and forgiveness through His death to you and to me.

When John Newton-womanizer, slave trader, rebel, and hard-hearted sinner-experienced the divine injustice of God's redemptive grace, he wrote, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, / That saved a wretch like me; / I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind, but now, I see." This familiar hymn echoes the apostle Paul's refrain as he describes the grace and mercy of God in Romans 5. Jesus has redeemed us from the curse and condemnation of sin. He has delivered us from a system of failure and death. He has empowered us to live in a new dimension.

Here is the core issue of the Christian faith: God does not require us to absolve the guilt of our sin by our efforts to win His approval and fulfill His justice. He accomplished this justice through work of Christ for us. The just died in place of the unjust. And then God extends this forgiveness to us through grace, because Jesus is "just and the justifier" of everyone who believes in His name (Rom. 3:26).

Now life, for those who believe, is all about Christ and His deliverance-His willingness to pay the penalty for our failure in sin and to offer us new life. Paul highlights this truth: "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10).

The new life that God gives us by His grace is all about Christ. The life we now live, we live in Christ and for Christ. We are saved not only by His death, but by His life. We live in Christ, and we live for Christ.

Through Jesus Christ's willingness by God's grace to taste death, He paid the penalty of our failure in sin and offers us new life. Listen to Paul's description of Christ's work for us: "But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.... For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:15, 17).

What is the sum of it all? Not injustice but justification. Justification is being rendered right. And in this case, sinners like you and me are rendered right with God.

Here's the good news, put plain and simple:

Death reigned in sin. Christ died for us. We are justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is incredible! When you receive Christ, this transformational truth becomes reality for you. Our salvation is a wonder of such great proportions that when we understand it, we will never get over it.

God condemns us in sin. God provides for us in grace. Jesus dies for us in justice. We are forgiven and made alive through the just and justifying work of Jesus Christ.

When we understand who Christ is and what He has done for us, when we turn from our sin and ourselves in response to God's grace and forgiveness, we receive new life. It is a life of new potential, new power, and new purpose. I can't explain it, but I plan to spend the rest of my life celebrating the wonder of it all.


Excerpted from the life you were born to give by David H. McKinley Copyright © 2007 by David H. McKinley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David H. McKinley is teaching pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas and author of The Search for Satisfaction. He has also served as senior pastor of Boca Raton Community Church and First Baptist Church in Merritt Island, Florida. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. David shares life with his wife Connie and their two children, Joe and Lizzi.

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