The Other Side of Giving

March 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

What’s your view of giving? We give gifts, we give advice, we give a darn, we give away, we give attention.

In church, we talk a lot about giving. Whether it is to support ministry, feed the poor, build a building, or care for others in the body– giving is something that is an integral part of the Christian life.

That makes a lot of sense when you think about it (even though we don’t like to think about giving much. Look at this passage from Scripture (I know you’ve heard this):
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

Eternal life with God is a gift that comes through Jesus Christ. God is the great giver– and, as his children, we are called to be givers too.

Okay. I get that. You get that. Want proof? Keep looking in the Bible. In Acts 20:35, Paul tells us that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.”

That’s pretty straightforward, huh. How about this…
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

So we should give and we should be cheerful about it.

Now, I bet you may be tempted to stop reading now. You’ve been there and done that. Besides, sounds like another Pastor talking about fund-raising again. Well, hang on there buckeroo– I want to talk about the other side of giving. The other side of giving? What does that mean?

Glad you asked… The other side of giving is receiving . And here’s my question for you: How are you at receiving?

Don’t answer too fast. I’m not talking about your birthday or Christmas– I’m not talking about how you receive extravagant gifts that are fun or cool or bonuses. I’m talking about how you receive gifts from others that you need and you couldn’t get on your own? Have you ever experienced this kind of receiving?

We have (me and my family). We have received money for school supplies, funds for mortgages, and most recently a car. Pretty cool, huh? We were blown away by the generosity of those in our community.

On one side of giving (the giving) we have generosity, selflessness, love, grace, sympathy. On the other side (the receiving) we have… Well, what do we have? That’s my question.

I’d like to say we have appreciation, humility, thanksgiving, and praise. But there is also something else that can rise up– something that may be unexpected: PRIDE.

Here’s part of what I experienced when we received grace from others (grace= undeserved favor, getting something you don’t deserve): I must pay this back somehow. I must prove worthy of this gift. And that is PRIDE. Pride tells me that I shouldn’t be in a position of need and it’s bad that others see me this way. Pride says that I can do it on my own and the fact that you think I can’t is a sign of weakness. Pride says you must be self-sufficient.

Pride can steal the joy that should be a part of receiving.

When we were given a car, our benefactors said, “We were planning on getting a new car and were thinking about what we should do with our old one. When we heard that your car died God told us to give our car to you.” Now that’s a pretty cool “God story”, isn’t it?

But it was hard for me to accept that story because of my own PRIDE. I began questioning the givers: Are you sure about this? We can figure something out… Let us give you something for it… Don’t feel like you have to do this…

When they brought us the car, I found myself hemming and hawing… I really don’t know what to say– I don’t know how to thank you. And here was the response: God gave you this car. That was it. Simple. Maybe too simple for me to understand.

But then, it makes sense. God is the great giver. Whether it is a car or his Son. God gives. And we receive. I think the hardest things for people to accept is that we must receive God’s gifts. He is giving– are you receiving? How much does pride affect how you see God and his gifts to you?

If you feel like YOU have to repay God for his grace than you have an issue with pride. If you pray for strength so that YOU can do what YOU think God wants YOU to do than you have an issue with pride. If YOU are focusing on all the rules that YOU need to follow to live a godly life than you have an issue with pride.

PRIDE is a destroyer of gratitude. PRIDE is the opposite of humility. PRIDE can keep us from receiving.

And here’s the coolest part of all: When you accept the other side of giving (receiving) you will become a giver. Why? Because you understand that God is the great giver and so you can give without worrying about losing. In other words, if you can’t receive, you can’t give.

Maybe I’m starting to understand that. I wouldn’t have unless I was placed in a position of need– and then God brought others to meet those needs.

I think I’ll go for a drive– I find that it helps my gratitude level. It reminds me of givers.

Grace and Peace.

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