Receiving God’s Gifts
I had always received things from God in terms of their value for others, not fully embracing their value for myself. There had to be a practical reason for everything, including the talents and desires God gave me. As an example, although I wanted to take voice lessons, I found it difficult to get motivated, because I didn’t know what I would do with the singing once I learned how. It wasn’t enough that I just wanted to learn to sing.
One day in casual conversation, I found that a friend of mine spent a lot of time growing bamboo. My first question was, “What’s the commercial market for bamboo?”
He answered, “My heart is the only reason I grow bamboo.” His answer caught me by surprise, as though he turned the lights on. I saw that I was so driven and practical that I was unconsciously filtering out things that didn’t serve a purpose.
This kind of utilitarian thinking makes a great business model, but is destructive to spiritual growth. To take a precious gift from someone who loves us, treat it lightly and give it to someone else, can wound the giver, or rob us of the joy intended for us personally.
One day I was reading Romans 5:5, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” After years of reading this verse and others like it, the message I had been hearing was that God poured out his love into our hearts so that we can be more loving to others.
While that is true, there is another important point: God has poured out his love into MY heart. He loves ME. For some reason, that day I realized the doing had become more important than the experiencing, and I had often tried to pass on to others what God intended for me.
I now understand that we need to fully absorb the gifts and messages God has for us, for ourselves first — sometimes for ourselves only — and see what God has in store.
A beautiful model of fully receiving a lavish gift is Yeshua. Mark 14 recounts a story of a woman who poured expensive perfume on Yeshua’s head. His disciples had the same reaction I might have had, seeing the various ways money from the perfume could’ve been put to use. Yeshua rebukes them and continues enjoying her sacrificial gift.
How am I at receiving God’s lavish blessings?
In the end, giving comes more naturally, passionately and is actually inevitable after you internalize the gift for yourself. By receiving God’s gifts for yourself and allowing them to impact you first, the result is both personal and spiritual growth, and you are more prepared to serve and minister to others.