Is it just me, or have you noticed that it's so much harder to receive than to give? My mum recently found this out the hard way.
Having heard an inspiring message about random acts of kindness, she thought she would sieze the day and put the Pastor's words into actions whilst out on a shopping trip.
She somewhat nervously walked to the flowers adorning the front of the supermarket and chose a friendly-looking boquet, bound to brighten anyone's day. Then she stood and waited for the God-appointed recipient to catch her eye. Before long a dear old lady shuffled past, her arms barely able to push her heavily-laden trolley across the shiny tiled floor. "Aha!" Mum sprinted into action, dazzling smile in place, eager to experience the rush of joy that would be incited by the tears of gratitude pouring down her age-lined face.
"Excuse me, but I would love for you to take these, just as a gesture . . . of . . . um . . ." The little old lady mustn't have heard her, as she seemed to speed up a little. Mum tried again, putting on her best it's-okay-I'm-not-going-to-hurt-you smile.
"Excuse me, but I just wanted to bless you with a gift of . . ." What was this lady's problem?! She was practically running at this point. Finally mum managed to catch up to her, panting slightly at her sudden burst of exercise. Her head was screaming, "Will you just take the flowers?!" but she managed to keep her emotions in check.
"I (puff) would be (pant) so pleased if you (puff) would take these as a gesture of (pant) kindness." By now the dazzling smile was more of a grimace. The lady barely stopped as she snatched the slightly bedraggled flora from mum's hand, threw them on top of her shopping and continued on her way without so much as a thank you.
Recalling my mum's sad tale of the unwanted daisies causes me to think on the whole idea of giving and receiving. We all know that the bible says we should be generous and cheerful givers, but why is it so important. And what, if anything, does God's Word say about our attitude towards receiving?
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-8 Paul writes of the actions of the churches in Macedonia. Coming under intense pressure, and suffering all kinds of attack and testing they kept God's kingdom and the Apostles first and foremost in their hearts. They knew that through their giving the Kingdom of God would be furthered here on earth, and that it was an act of God's kindness that allowed them to do so,
They made an appeal to us, begging us to let them participate in the ministry of Godís kindness to his holy people in Jerusalem. 2 Cor 8:4
Imagine how they would have felt if the Apostles in Jerusalem had responded in this manner,
"Yeah, look thanks for the kind offer, but we really can't take your money and food! We'll find a way, somehow, to get through; we'll just keep praying for a miracle."
Not only would the Apostles be unable to continue in building Christ's kingdom through all of Judea and Samaria, but it would have taken from the Macedonian followers the joy they experienced via being a blessing, possibly crushing their spirits and causing them to be overcome by their persecutors.
The same could be said today of us, should we choose to refuse the help of a friend or member of our Church. There is no shame in accepting the assistance of another, yet we often feel as if there's some unwritten social law that says we should be self-sufficient. Well, from what I have read in the Bible, we can achieve very little being self-sufficient, and I believe it's the lie of the enemy that says we should 'suck it up' and deal with our circumstances alone. Self-sufficiency is really a fancy way of saying pride; and pride is nothing more than a thief robbing the giver of their blessing from God.
How about today, if someone offers to bless us, we don't allow pride to rob them of their joy - let's choose to reach out and "just take the flowers."
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