“Learn how to receive sister. It affords people that love you great pleasure to give to you, especially when you have a greater need.
I won't keep a ledger if you won't.”
It’s not often someone is able to effectively teach you something of great significance so succinctly. (Thanks Josh!)
Giving is essential to our lives and work as Christians. We are no strangers to the concept of giving our time, talents, and treasures. We are instructed to give to the poor, give ourselves fully to the work of Christ, and be cheerful and generous givers.
Act 20:35 states that "it is more blessed to give than to receive". That is true, absolutely. Sometimes, though, graciously receiving serves as a highly effective catalyst, fostering a spirit of giving in both the giver and receiver.
Two of the biggest things that get in the way of our gracious receiving are pride and guilt. We are too proud to admit our weaknesses, struggles, and need. We feel too guilty because we think we don’t deserve certain gifts, or have to be reminded of opportunities to give that we have missed. Learning to be gracious receivers could go a long way to realigning our hearts, and could make the body of Christ work far more efficiently.
I know that I have felt far more comfortable requesting prayers or seeking advice from those who have confided their own struggles to me. I have been inspired to acts of kindness towards others when I have been acted upon. I have been reminded of the dangers of taking self-reliance too far.
We were each created with different gifts, and all go through different phases in life. We are the body of Christ, and need one another desperately in order to most effectively do that which we have been called!
Being vulnerable and humbling ourselves to receive that which others have to give is a great way to create honest relationships and often gives us clarity to identify ways that we, ourselves can give.
Consider how pride or guilt complicate or even destroy the gift of salvation! Eternal life in heaven, won by Christ’s perfect life and death, is a free gift given to everyone. Yet, not everyone has received the crown of life. Many, too many, have rejected it. Too many let pride or guilt get in the way of their sanctification. There are those who don’t believe they need a Savior. There are those who don’t want to associate themselves with Jesus. There are those who feel they have done too much wrong, and that they cannot possibly accept such a gift. There are too many who have not received the gift of salvation even though it has been given to them.
John 1:9-13, 16
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
It is so important to give. It is also important to receive.
A few days after a friend sent me the message above, I was at the grocery store. I had a squirmy toddler’s hand and a grocery bag in one arm, and an infant car seat and another bag in my other arm. I was determined to make it out to my car without the cart. I could have done it, too. Then a woman who was walking past stopped and asked if she could help me. Usually I would have said that I was fine, and thanked her for offering. The conversation with my friend popped into my mind. It may sound silly, but I didn’t want to deprive her of the opportunity to give. It always puts me in a good mood to give to others, and I could only assume it would do the same for her. I asked if she could hold one grocery bag so I could readjust everything. She lit up at the opportunity to help me. She put her unlit cigarette back in the box, and I handed her the bag. She told me how she was a single mom of two kids and how sometimes she just needed help, so she understood my need. There it was, an instant relationship, and an opportunity. I wasn’t too good, too self-reliant, or too undeserving to accept her help, and now I had a new friend. It was the perfect opportunity for an “I’ll pray for you” which I’m still kicking myself for missing. I will pray for her, though. I will also look for more ways to give, and be ready to take those opportunities the next time I’m in a position to receive.
We have received the crown of life. This affords both us and our Savior great joy. Don’t be afraid to receive gifts from others that God places in your life. Foster that spirit of giving by giving, yes, but also by learning to graciously receive.
1 Timothy 4:4-6
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.