A Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
The Bible says it is more blessed to give than receive. (Acts 20:35) Although it is more blessed to give, there are times when it is blessed to receive as well.
Some people are too proud to receive anything from anybody. They don’t want to feel obligated to another person. They don’t want others to think they need anything. Some of these people are generous givers but don’t know how to receive.
One of my dearest friends and I tend to be that way. I call it the Midwest Missouri mentality. There’s a reason they call Missouri the “Show Me” state and have a stubborn mule as a symbol. We go out to eat and drive everyone crazy. I want to pay. She wants to pay. Bicker, bicker, bicker… The servers want one of us to pay so they can get on with their lives.
One time she and her husband invited us to share a condo in Branson, MO for our anniversary. Of course we wanted to pay our part but they wouldn’t hear of it. It was their treat! On one of our outings I hopped into the store to get some gum and she stayed in the car. She asked me to pick her up some, too. When I tried to give her the gum she insisted on paying me the $1.50 it cost. I kept saying, “No, just keep it!” But she wouldn’t hear of it. Finally I said, “Let me see if I understand this correctly. You can treat us to free lodging which costs a bundle but I can’t give you one lousy package of gum? There’s something wrong here!” She had to admit she had a problem receiving anything from anybody – even her closest friend.
Some people can’t even receive a sincere compliment. Instead of just graciously saying, “Thank you,” they make up excuses as to why they don’t deserve the compliment. It’s as if they think if they accept the compliment they aren’t humble enough. Or they immediately try to reciprocate with another compliment which is usually insincere because they are only reciprocating, not really giving a genuine compliment. Let’s face it… Some days our hair really does look good so when some bald guy says, “Hey, I like your hair style!” we don’t need to say, “I like yours, too!”
So here’s the deal… Just as giving should be part of our lives so should receiving. When we can’t receive genuine, heartfelt gifts, appreciation, help, or compliments from others we rob them of blessings.
Jesus was the greatest giver. He gave up His life for us. But did you know Jesus knew how to receive as well? When Mary anointed His feet with expensive perfume He accepted it graciously. (John 12:1-8) The disciples were shocked because the ointment was worth a lot of money and could have been sold to help the poor. Yet Jesus accepted this gift in the spirit it was given.
Another similar event is recorded in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus was visiting Simon, a Pharisee. Some scholars say it’s the same event and others disagree. I personally think it is two separate occurrences because these women appear to be totally different. It’s conceivable that two similar incidents of this kind could have happened because everyone walked in sandals on dusty roads and many times feet were washed at someone else’s home. Here again, Jesus set an example in receiving when a woman of ill repute washed His feet with ointment from an alabaster box and her tears. Simon was appalled but Jesus defended her and accepted her act of kindness graciously. (Luke 7:36-50)
Jesus taught the disciples a lesson in serving others when He insisted on washing their feet at the Last Supper. (John 13:14-15) However this was a lesson in receiving as well. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet but Jesus said that unless Peter received this act of service from Him, Peter could have no part of Him. (John 13:4-10)
God has gifts for us to receive but sometimes we refuse to accept them. God wants us to receive forgiveness of sin. We already have it, but we need to acknowledge and receive it. Unless we do we will never be able to experience the fullness of a relationship with Him. The blessings we receive from God we can give to others. However, we must choose to receive His grace and truth or we have nothing to give.
Consider this… Jesus could have fed the multitudes with manna from heaven. After all, it had been done before. Instead he let a little boy give up his lunch and share what he had with others. (John 6:5-14)
Refusing to receive from others can rob them of blessings. It may be more blessed to give, but sometimes it is blessed to receive as well.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
- For one whole week when someone gives you a compliment just say, “Thank you” without saying how unworthy you are or counter complimenting.
- At the end of each day try to recall an act of kindness that was done for you or someone tried to do for you. Could you have been more receptive? If so, resolve to be more attuned and responsive tomorrow.
- Forget the false humility. Everyone sees right through it anyway. We all have strengths and weaknesses. When someone acknowledges one of your strengths just say, “Thanks!”
- Life is a mixture of learning to give and learning to receive. If we never receive, our lives are out of balance. Ask God to help you receive what He wants to give you.
- Ask God to help you receive what He wants to give you through others. Once I emailed a friend and said, “You are a SWEETIE!” She emailed back and said, “Yes, I know!” Ha! I love it! Now that gal knows how to receive a compliment!