Do You Know How To Receive Gifts?

by Joe Plemon on November 26, 2010

I receive you

Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ima Jean, 82, is a widowed family friend who lives alone in a distant city. The last time Janice and I visited her, Ima Jean lamented, “I can still wash, cut and perm my own hair, but it is getting more and more difficult. My arms get so tired that I wash my hair one day, cut it the next day and do the perm on the third day.”

Janice perked up, “Ima Jean”, she said, “Why don’t you let me do that for you? We could have it all done in a couple of hours.”

Oh no. I couldn’t ask you to do that. It is too much.

“But it’s not! Believe me. This is something I can do and would love to do.”

No. I can manage by myself.

“Ima Jean. I would really, really love to do this. Won’t you let me?”

No. I’ll do it.

Janice was unusually quiet for the rest of our visit. As we left for home the next day, she was near tears, “I just wanted to do something nice for Ima Jean. It really hurts when people will not let you help them.”

With Ima Jean, this was not an isolated incident; her refusal to receive help from others has been a long time pattern. Janice and I had both tried to help her in many ways over the years and she always refused. It seemed like this time was extra frustrating. Janice had her hopes up, but Ima Jean dashed them. Janice was hurt.

How about you?

In this season of giving, ask yourself this question, “How well do I receive?

Do you use any of the following responses when someone offers to bless you with a gift or a deed?

  • “How will I ever repay you?”
  • “You shouldn’t have.”
  • “It’s too much.”
  • “I don’t deserve that.”
  • “I can’t accept that.”
  • “I am not going to allow you to do that.

Whether intended or not, these responses send a signal to the giver that he should not have offered the gift; that he has made a mistake or might even have a hidden motive. Would any of these responses be appropriate if God himself offered you a gift? Of course not, and they aren’t appropriate when a friend does so.

God’s Gift

The greatest revelation of my life was the discovery that God wanted to give me a gift: the gift of salvation. Having always believed that I could only be saved by being good enough, this offer was THE “Moment of AHA” in my life.  Suddenly,  the whole world made sense to me as if a huge riddle has been solved.  I accepted that gift on a December evening in DaNang, Viet Nam, and my life has never been the same.

My wish for each of you this Christmas season is that you will not only be a generous giver, but also a gracious receiver. And if you have never received the greatest gift of all, now would be the perfect time to do so. God’s offer is always available.

Your appropriate response is, “Thank you.”

Readers:  Do you have friends or relatives like Ima Jean?  How do you feel when someone refuses to accept your offers or gifts?  How about you?  How well do you receive gifts?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tony George

This post is a modified reprint of one I did last Christmas season.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Everyday Tips November 26, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Oh my gosh, I love this post! I am Ima Jean! I am the worst gift/help receiver in the land. I don’t know why though. I am the first one to help anyone, but I am very reluctant to take it.

One day, I was at lunch with a friend, and my ‘guard’ broke down and I just started crying about my dad who had passed away the month before. I apologized for losing control and my friend said “I wish you would do this more often”. That moment taught me so much- I am blocking people from my life because I am afraid they don’t want to see that side of me. However, the exact opposite seems to be true.

I love this post Joe.


joeplemon November 27, 2010 at 8:16 am

Everyday Tips,
Sometimes a post just resonates with a reader. After all, that is why we write – is it not? I am delighted that this one struck that chord with you. Thanks for taking the time to share just how. Here’s wishing you a season of gracious receiving!


Nicole November 27, 2010 at 11:28 am

Here in the midwest we have a three ask system. Once is polite. The second allows an out for the asker. If the person says no three times then they really don’t want it.

I’m happy because after many many years of three nos, my MIL is letting me help out in the kitchen.


joeplemon November 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I live in the midwest and the three ask system is a new one for me. But I wonder: why did you keep asking MIL to help in the kitchen after she had said no many, many times? And does the third “no” always mean the person really doesn’t want help, or could it be that the person doesn’t know how to be a gracious receiver?


jan November 28, 2010 at 7:00 am

Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When we want to bless others by giving to them and that gift is refused or rejected, our blessing is stolen. And that hurts.

I can’t imagine how it hurts God when people refuse his best gift, Jesus.

And how much he is blessed when we do receive his gift of Jesus!


joeplemon November 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Well said. When we think of giving and receiving through God’s eyes, it is easier to understand that giving is the very nature of God, but we can also get a glimpse into how hurt God must be when people refuse to receive His gifts. In the same way, others are hurt when we refuse to receive the gifts they offer.


firstSTREET December 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Great insights into how we receive gifts, and what it might mean to the person who is offering such a gift. Thanks for sharing!

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joeplemon December 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

You’re welcome.


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