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.
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?