Receiving is as important as giving

Church bulletin:

Everyone is familiar with the words of the Lord Jesus, quoted in Acts 20:35 “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” The blessing of giving to others most often transcends the blessing of the gift or the help received. God imparts to the generous giver joy and contentment and thankfulness as they extend themselves. We should not however, elevate giving in such a way that we are not willing to receive. There cannot be giving without at the same time receiving.

As we come into the Christmas period and we think about the wonderful gift of Christ, He is of no value to those who resist Him. For the Gospel to save, two things are necessary – Christ must be given and Christ must be received. Isaac Watts wrote – “Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King, Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing.” The King has come, but earth must receive Him; each person must open their heart to Him – in other words receive Him by faith. It is God who prepares the heart and it is we who have the responsibility to receive the gift of salvation.

If we don’t learn to live as receivers, neither will the church function as it should. Every one of us is to give and this means every one of us is to receive. How can others pray for us, bear our burdens, show hospitality, provide gifts, extend generosity unless we are willing to be open and receptive. It seems to me that some people like to give yet are reluctant to receive. While it is more blessed to give, giving can also gratify the flesh – the giver feels good about themselves, pride is fed, self-sufficiency is nurtured. The proud giver does not like to receive because that is to say they benefit from others and even need others. Receiving undermines their independence. It makes them feel vulnerable and inadequate if they open themselves up to people.

The gift of Christ reminds us that we are all needy. We need God’s offer of salvation and we must humble ourselves and thankfully receive it without any sense of contribution. The gift of Christ also reminds us that we need one another. Christ saves us in order to incorporate us into His body. The ‘body life’ dynamic involves giving and receiving. The two go together and cannot exist without each other.

Let us look outside of ourselves and be givers – giving of our time, our friendship, our recourses, etc. for the good of God’s people. And let us be receivers. In our willingness to receive not only are we blessed but we enable the giver to be blessed. And in both God is glorified.