“It’s more blessed to give than to receive”. It’s definitely more fun. Over the years Dallas and I have been blessed to be able to give to others. One of our fun activities was to identify a family that was in need and come up with a way to give to them without being found out. To be able to buy the gift card for groceries and then figure out a way to sneak it into her purse or his Bible at church without anyone seeing what we were doing. To later hear about how God had blessed them. Their wondering who it was that gave the gift. Praising the Lord with them for His provision. Oh, the fun that we’ve had over the years in giving.
Stealing another’s blessing
But we also go through seasons where we aren’t able to be the giver. We need to be gracious in receiving from others. When we don’t allow someone to give as God has instructed them, we are stealing their blessing. This puts us in a position that goes against what the Lord is doing in their life and in ours. I’ve had to learn how to allow others the joy that I’ve experienced in giving by receiving with humility and grace.
Many people think it is better to receive than to give. We live in an entitlement culture of “give me”, “I deserve it”, and “mine”. Some have become so dependant on government programs or other handouts such that they have lost their drive to work and contribute to society (please don’t misread this and think I don’t believe in helping those in need).
As kids we were so excited for Christmas and all the presents that we would get to open and enjoy. I would always be the first one up ready to get started with the melee (aka present opening). Mom made a rule that when we got up we could get the things in our stocking, but until a certain time we were not to make noise and certainly not go into their bedroom to wake them up. Back then, it seemed more fun to receive.
An uncomfortable situation
Somewhere along the line it became shameful for me to receive. I don’t know where the shift happened. Maybe it was when we were the young family in need, having a baby but not enough money to buy groceries. Maybe it was just the pride of self-reliance. But at some point in time, I determined that receiving wasn’t as acceptable.
We were recently at a conference of Christian counselors. At the end of one of the main sessions, Michael Jr gave one of his comedy routines. He talked to us about receiving. In general, Christian counselors are good at taking care of others and giving. Michael Jr was impressed that God wanted some of us to experience receiving, so at his product table they had a program he called “Communerosity.” The premise was if you felt like the Lord was telling you to pay more than the asking price for merchandise that they would use it to give to those who couldn’t afford it. But this day he said that some of us were to receive regardless of if we could afford it or not.
As he was talking, I had the sinking feeling inside that I was supposed to be a receiver that day. Now some of you may think I’m a bit weird, but the thought of going up and asking for something was not appealing to me. Yet, I knew that was what I was supposed to do. And to make the situation harder, God decided to give Dallas an “appointment” to talk with a woman that she had met the day before. So, I had to go stand in line by myself.
How do we receive?
There were so many times in those agonizing minutes (was it only minutes?) as I got closer and closer to the table that I just wanted to bolt. Then I was standing there and the young lady collecting money looked at me and asked what I wanted. I’ve been at a number of merchandise tables over the years to buy this or that, but I’ve never before gone up and taken something without paying. I somehow managed to get the words “I’m supposed to receive” out of my mouth. “What would you like?”, she pleasantly asked. “I don’t know, what do the people who receive get?” (As if the receivers got the leftovers and the good stuff was only available for those who could pay.) To shorten the discomfort of retelling the story, she ended up picking out a DVD and handed it to me with a smile. I managed a “thank you” before slinking away, hoping no one saw that I didn’t pay.
Why is it so hard for some of us to receive? When did it become shameful to have a need and allow someone else the blessing of giving? The simple answer, at least for me, is pride. I was taught that I’m to take care of myself, provide for my family, and give to those in need. Those are all good qualities and things that we should be doing, except when we’re supposed to be the one receiving. (If there were none who had need, who could then give?)
God’s Gift for Us
Christ gave everything, His very life, so that we can receive eternal life. Yet, we seem to think that we have to give something in return. Salvation is a gift with no expectation, or even ability, to reciprocate. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16).
When I, as a father, give a gift to one of my kids, I don’t expect them to give anything in return. (A “thank you” and a hug are always appreciated!) I give out of my love for them, not for any ulterior reason or expectation of something or some action in return. God does the same thing for us.
Not only did He provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him, He wants to have a relationship with us here on earth. When we live in relationship with someone that we love, it is natural to want to please them.
I enjoy doing something that I know Dallas likes, not because it will result in a reward for me, but because I get to see her pleasure. With God, we get the privilege of pleasing the Father through worship, conversing with Him, and by showing His love to others. We also can bring Him pleasure when we receive with gratitude and humility.
What a difficult thing, at least for me. That’s part of why going up to Michael Jr’s table and receiving was so hard. I had to humble myself, effectively become dependent, and receive. I got so much more that day than a DVD.
Both giving and receiving is not about us. We may think it is self-centered to receive, or we give because it makes us feel good. Ultimately though, every part of our life is to be an expression of the Father’s love.
What about you? I’d love to hear your stories of how God blessed you in receiving and how He’s used you in giving. Send your story to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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