Imagine that from the time your child was born, you planned to give him an amazing, brand new house on his 21st birthday at no cost to him – 100% debt free. Throughout his childhood, you sacrifice so much to make the gift a reality. You eat only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day. You take every extra shift available at work, sale and downsize your own house, and choose to never travel back to your childhood home/family.
His 21st birthday comes, and you joyfully present him with a box that holds pictures of the new house, keys, and the paid-in-full deed. He opens it and is absolutely elated!
“Mom, Dad – this is UNBELIEVABLE! I could not have done this for myself, debt free. Thank you!” He texts all his friends and posts it on social media. Wow. What a day!
But, wait, what’s this… his friends pull up outside and honk. Your son drops the keys, pictures and deed back in the box and nonchalantly pushes it into the corner. Off he goes with his friends onto another adventure.
As the weeks, months and years go by, he rarely comes around anymore. When he does, he will occasionally mention the gift, but he never moves in, he never works on the pipes or paints the walls. He never spends any dreamy nights there, and, as he becomes a father himself, he only tells them about the house, but he never shows it to them or lets them go inside to experience it… ouch.
Though it is better to give than to receive, we may find ourselves on the receiving end of a gift. It may be a small gift or an extravagant gift. It may be something we asked for or something we never dreamed about. We may have need of it, or we may think of a million people with even greater need. How can we be a good receiver of the gifts given us?
Receiving is uncomfortable for me; I often feel needy or greedy. There have been times I felt guilt because I didn’t get the “thank you” card in the mail to the gift giver even though I was incredibly grateful.
Jesus was an amazing example of a loving servant and continual giver of good things, but he routinely received gifts as well. There were numerous occasions when Jesus received meals and other practical gifts, and on at least two occasions He allowed His feet to be anointed with a perfume so costly that it was equivalent to a year’s wage. How impractical, and there was not a single mention in the Bible of Him writing a “thank you” card!
Did Jesus ever refuse a gift? Yes, but rarely. Just prior to His crucifixion, the soldiers offered Him wine mixed with myrrh to help deaden pain, and He did not take it. There certainly seemed to be intention and purpose in every circumstance of receiving and refusal with Jesus.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO BE A GOOD RECEIVER
Following Jesus’ example of how to receive can help us go beyond the niceties of saying “thank you”.
- Take time to KNOW the gift giver if possible. For gifts not given anonymously, consider spending time with the giver. Jesus didn’t become life long friends with every gift giver, but many of his gifts were received around a dinner table where He was sharing life with them.
- Acknowledge the sacrifice. Every gift given requires time, thought and resources. It may be at considerable “cost” to the giver, and even if it isn’t – nobody owes us a gift!
- Utilize the gift as intended. Simon Iscariot acted distraught because the costly perfume used on Jesus’ feet was not sold and money given to the needy, but the gift was intended for worshipping and loving Jesus. It could have practically been used for the cause Simon suggested but all the sacrifice and emotion the women poured into the “impractical” form of giving was balm for their souls.
DECIDING TO ACCEPT OR DECLINE A GIFT
Not long ago, I spent several incredible hours with a homeless man and then provided he and all his worldly belongings transportation to his next location. Upon arrival, he was so grateful and offered me a sandwich he had been holding all day. What a sacrifice for him. To refuse felt like I was telling him his gift wasn’t good enough; to accept would have been taking so much from him and I would not have used it for it’s intended purpose.
Friends tried to pay us for a something we intended to be a loving service. Others have offered abundant gifts and help as we took a significant pay cut, expanded our family, and then cared for my dad in his last four months of life. To accept makes me feel needy and sometimes selfish. To refuse may rob the gift-giver of giving and it may rob my ability to see the many way God provides for my family financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Jesus did not demand gifts from people or exhibit pride; instead, He was poised, showing humility and discernment. When determining whether to accept or refuse a gift, these are the traits I ask for in prayer – humility and discernment.
THE MOST INCREDIBLE GIFT
Jesus has also given us a gift – we can be completely debt-free of our sins because of an incredible sacrifice He made on our behalf long before we walked this earth. Upon receiving this gift, many of us were elated, maybe shared the news with friends and family. But what happened as the days, weeks, months and years have gone by?
The gift is as real today as the day you and I received it, but without taking the time to KNOW the gift giver, acknowledge the depth of sacrifice or using the gift as intended, we are truly missing out on what God intended with the gift of salvation. He came that we may have eternal life with Him but also so that we “may have life and have it abundantly” here on this earth. (John 10:10)
Let’s choose today to be good receivers of gifts given us by family, friends or neighbors, and, even more importantly, let’s be good receivers of all Christ has to offer so that He may continually reveal to us the fullness of the gift to us individually and as The Church.
- Consider a time in which you gave a gift to a “good receiver”. What did they do? How did it impact you?
- What are some practical gifts offered to you daily that you overlook or may not receive well? Maybe a spouse that is trying to be more involved in parenting the children, a boss that truly believes in your skills/talents, or a neighbor that seems nosy but is often the first to notice your dog got out?
- Are there any gifts you have refused out of pride?
- Are their any gifts that you expect or feel entitled to?
- If you have accepted Jesus’ gift of redemption, have you tucked it nonchalantly to the side or is this gift an abundant part of your everyday?
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Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!