Receiving, Then Giving

Generosity // April 6, 2009

Recently I had opportunity to assist a dear friend who is facing dire financial circumstances. During a lunch conversation I sensed there were troubles on the horizon for this friend and I began to inquire about how I might help. He acknowledged my interest, yet his response was that he would consider it and let me know. It was then I looked him in the eye and said, “You know, it may require more grace to receive than to give.”

You see, over the years this friend has been overwhelmingly generous to me and my family. Not only to me, but to others I know personally, he has extended a hand of friendship and offers of assistance, financial and otherwise, that could never totally be repaid. Yet now he finds himself on the other end of the generosity spectrum. This time it is his turn to receive – and I don’t think it has been easy for him to “play that role.”

How about you? Have you been able to accept the role of receiver when God has placed you there? Does embarrassment or pride prevent you from acknowledging need and possibly cloud your willingness to receive? Our ability to receive gratefully can enhance our motivation to give generously.

In Acts 20:35, the apostle Paul asks the Ephesian elders to remember what Jesus said. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It is more blessed to give than to receive. Yet receiving is not a bad thing.

Receiving can be a very good thing. For the receiver, receiving can: support, comfort, delight, empower, heal, affirm, nourish, encourage, free up, and embolden. Receiving is good. In my opinion, receiving is the precursor to giving. How we give is influenced by how we receive.

What have we been given that we have never fully received? It came from someone else and we do not employ it or enjoy it. What relationships do we keep at arm’s length? What opportunities do we postpone time and time again? What gifts or abilities do we not use? What fears or pride keep us from truly experiencing generosity from another person? Or from God? Are we “stingy receivers?”

What do we have from God that we do not acknowledge as God’s gift to us? We think only of what we have gotten by our wits, our efforts and our talents and not of what is ours due to God’s grace and generosity. We refuse to receive for that might mean our success came from elsewhere.

In Matthew 10:8 we read Jesus’ words: “Freely you have received, freely give.” How we give, our generosity, is influenced by what we have truly received. Easter is the great giving event of God. My prayer is that this Easter season will become a great receiving event for us. If it does, we will more likely become generous people, giving enthusiastically because we have fully received graciously.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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