I love to give… encouraging words, fishing or hunting gear, a special gift, and even my time serving others. I especially love giving anonymously to folks in real need. I’ve found a lot of joy in giving, but I’ve struggled with receiving. As you might imagine, it was difficult going into ministry; Louise and I are far more comfortable being “givers” than “receivers.” However, we have learned, as the Apostle Paul points out in Philippians 4:17, that ministry is often about receiving so others can be blessed and rewarded as they too learn the joy of giving.
For most of my life I’ve had a hard time accepting compliments too. Just saying, “Thanks,” seemed vain. If a friend paid for lunch, I protested, making a mental note to reciprocate. Plain and simple, I’ve had a hard time receiving love. I have always been surrounded with loving people, especially a loving wife, but at the same time, felt unworthy, doubting their sincerity, or skeptical of their motives.
I was a lot like “Doubting Thomas.” When the disciples brought him the good news about Jesus, he was skeptical. In fact, he was emphatic; he simply would not receive it. Thomas told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
Like Thomas, I was afraid to trust, afraid to hope, afraid to receive the love that was offered to me. It was easier to doubt the “good news” than accept it and risk finding out that it was conditional or phony. I think maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t want to accept God’s gift of love. We know we’re unworthy, so we think there must be a catch. We go about life longing to be loved and to feel special, looking for something or someone to trust. Yet it is there all along. There is a risk in receiving freely — no strings attached, no reciprocating — but it’s the only way God will have it. He will not let us earn His gift. By very definition, grace is free and undeserved.
Mercifully, Jesus didn’t leave Thomas in his unbelief. A week later Jesus appeared to His disciples and Thomas was with them. Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:26–27)
And God has revealed His love to me. I see it all around me… and I welcome it! In fact, ever since I’ve been “practicing receiving”, God has been pouring out His love in extravagant ways. I mean in fantastic, unimaginable ways. It’s as if He’s saying, “Oh, and you think that’s cool, watch this!”
When we think, “We can’t possibly accept this. It can’t be real… what did we ever do to deserve this?” We can remember, “We did nothing to deserve it. It’s from our Heavenly Father who loves us immeasurably!” So just say, “Thank You, praise God!” and worship Him.
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:10–15
- To what extent do you find it difficult to receive from others? Why is that?
- According to the Scripture reading above, in what ways can you bless others as a receiver?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.
We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5