For years I have made a serious effort to “walk my talk” in the area of giving and receiving. Acts 20:35 is very familiar to us, where Paul quotes Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I also have taken very seriously the warning in Luke 12:48b: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” These verses have governed the rationale for my behavior in so many areas for my entire life. As a young teenager, I was acutely aware that God had blessed me, and that I had done nothing to deserve His favor or blessings. I knew I had been given much, and that I had a proportionally great responsibility to be a good steward of what God had given me. Although, like most people, I love receiving presents, I have always felt that I should try my very best to remain on the giving end of relationships.
As I examine this issue, I must concede that I don’t have as much difficulty receiving material gifts as I do receiving gifts of service — particularly if someone is offering to do something that I view as my personal responsibility. Somehow, I have ended up regarding the legitimate process of receiving acts of kind service as “getting” something. For me, “getting” smacks of entitlement or laziness, so it feels uncomfortable to me — or even unappealing.
However, God WANTS us to receive from one another; if that were not so, why would He emphasize the importance of GIVING? By definition, in order for giving to take place, there must be a recipient. If I insist on always being on the giving end of a situation, then I am in danger of controlling the relationship and hindering others from giving (which they also are commanded by God to do!). Giving and getting are NOT opposites, as getting implies some procurative effort on our part. On the other hand, giving and receiving are opposites and create a lovely relational balance when exercised in a reciprocal manner in a relationship (even though it IS more blessed to give than to receive!).
The attention-getter for me with this issue of receiving was proposed to me by one of my young adult children who asked me: “Mom, if we always want to give and are reluctant to receive, how can we ever expect to understand and receive the fullness of what Jesus died to give us?” THAT thought hit me like a brick. Indeed, the Lover of my soul died to give ME forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, and a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. He even said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). I think I need to brush up on my receiving skills! Father, enlarge my capacity to receive the fullness of Yourself and all You desire to give me!