Monday, January 7, 2013

Giving and Receiving

Acts 20:35 is the verse that most people have heard at some point in their lives. It states that it is more blessed to give than to receive. It is very true.
So many people, though, don't know how to give properly, nor do they know how to receive. Let me just say this: Give cheerfully, and receive gracefully.

My husband received a gift this Christmas, and it made him want to cry for all the wrong reasons. A family member of his threw a gift card into his lap and made the remark, "There. I'm finally done with that!" Like it was physically painful to give my husband even a kind sentiment, let alone a physical gift. He was hurt and offended, and was tempted to throw it back and tell this person where to put his gift, there was that much rotten attitude in the giving.

If you are not going to give in love, DON'T GIVE.

If you give something with an attitude or rudeness, you aren't blessing anyone, but giving a curse. Keep your attitude to yourself until you can freely give up that rottenness to God.

Some people can't receive, either. I drew a portrait for someone as a surprise Christmas present a few years ago. I did this to honor them. A family member of theirs hated it. They stewed over it for a year, then blew up, stating I did it to disrespect them. I made them ugly on purpose and tried to insult them by forcing them to display it in their house. The more I tried to explain that I did not intend to disrepect them, the uglier they got. I did my best on that portrait. I asked the family for help in finding some good pictures to use as resource material, and they refused to help me. So I found some pictures that were posted online of them and made a nice portrait. The likeness was accurate. They didn't like the accuracy of it, felt it should have been touched up, take extra weight and wrinkles off to make them virtually unrecognizable, definitely not accurate. It would have been a poor likeness, a very poor portrait if I had done that.

If you hate a gift, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Be polite, and you can dispose of the gift later. If you hate a gift, say,"Thank you! I appreciate your kindness in thinking of me." Don't destroy the gift-giver. Don't try to imply an ulterior motive on the giver. Just receive GRACEFULLY. All you do otherwise is show what an ugly, ungrateful person you are. People will not want to give you gifts if you behave that way, nor will they want to be around someone with that ugliness bubbling under the surface.

Some people just like to give. It's in their hearts to give. It's sad when others, caught up in their selfishness, greed, pride, or mistrust, can't understand that.

As much as it hurts people, think about how it hurts God. God is generous. He has so much to give us, but we refuse to receive it, because it isn't the gift that we think He should be giving us. WE want to control what He gives us, instead of just opening up and receiving it. We limit God by our inability to receive. How dare HE give us that when WE wanted something else?! It also shows we don't trust God to give us good things. Matthew 7:11 states, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Not trusting God to give us what is best for us means that we know better than God. If we know better than God, doesn't that mean that we are above God? Isn't that what Satan thought about himself? Wow. That's painful. Is it true in your life? What don't you trust God with in your life?

The same can be said about giving to God. All we have is His, entrusted into our care. So how do we have the right to withhold from God, when He says to give Him something? I am not talking placing a check in the offering plate, although it could apply to that; I am talking about when God shows you someone in need, someone to bless, with a kind word, an act of service, a meal, or whatever--- and we say no, we are too busy. No we are too strapped financially and have to take care of our own needs first. No, I don't like that guy. Or how about when God asks us to give HIM something? An addiction, a relationship, or how about our worship? We don't trust that God has our best interests at heart. He wants us to trust Him, and give freely and joyfully. Giving with a grudge isn't really giving. 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, "You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."

We also have to remember, that whatever we have ultimately belongs to God; if we refuse to give Him what is rightfully His, he can take it from us without our consent. Do you really want to have something ripped from your hands due to disobedience, or wouldn't it be better to give it to God freely so he can take it and bless it, change it, or transform it into something better?

Cheerful givers are some of the happiest, healthiest people in the world. They do it not for what they might get in return, but just for the joy of blessing someone. Graceful receivers are that way, too. They are grateful for what has been given, but more than that, it is the act of giving itself that blesses. It truly is the thought that counts. Giving blesses both parties involved, and receiving gracefully allows the receiver to bless the giver in return. Stingy hearts will never understand this as they cannot see past themselves. I pity them, really. All we can do is set an example for them and pray that one day they can learn how to let go of themselves and be a blessing. They, like the givers, will learn that what goes around comes around. You sow what you reap. Sow blessing, receive blessing. Sow selfishness, reap cursing.