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The Art of Receiving


"All things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.” 

Ignatius of Loyola 

I am not always the best receiver of gifts. It is much easier for me to give something to someone than it is to receive something from someone else. One of the primary reasons for this is that I wrestle with pride.


It takes humility to receive, whether it is a word of affirmation and honor, a practical or extravagant gift, an act of service, or an affectionate hug. Each of these gifts from God is ours if we receive them with open hands and an open heart. These God-given gifts minister encouragement and make us feel loved and valued. As a teenager, my Young Life leader instructed us to receive compliments by simply saying, “Thank you.”


I recently struggled with being honored by a friend because I felt I had done little to deserve her esteem. God was emphasizing His gift of grace or unearned favor through this encounter. It is foreign and uncomfortable to receive appreciation for something I hadn’t earned, but that is exactly what God was trying to imprint upon my heart. He wanted me to experience how His grace and favor can’t be earned. Dallas Willard describes the concept of grace well. “Grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.” To receive God’s gifts, we must realize we can’t pay for them. A "gift" isn't a gift if you have to pay for it.

Besides a lack of humility, having preconceived judgments about another person prevents us from receiving from them. If we’ve been hurt and haven’t processed our hearts, our judgments are a way we protect ourselves by closing ourselves off from the offenders. Our judgments stand in our way of receiving others’ genuine affirmation and life-giving prophetic words, words our souls desperately need to hear to move forward and be who God created us to be. 

Choose humility over pride and acceptance over hurts and judgments, to receive God’s grace and His other wonderful gifts. Oh, how you bless the One and ones who give when you graciously receive, as well as yourself. Jesus encourages us in John 16:24b with these words: “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Joy comes from receiving. 

“Grace is a free gift of God, but to receive a gift you must have open hands.” 

Philip Yancey


Relevant Reflections: 

How do you struggle with receiving? What gift does God want you to receive?

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

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