Last week, we dug into the relationship between humility and generosity. We receive both worldly/tangible gifts and spiritual gifts from God so we can bless others.
But what about the gifts other believers receive to bless us? There’s a flip side to generosity.
Pride runs deep in my veins–Appalachian pride. If the American attitude of individualism says we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (a worldview that’s been proven untrue, by the way. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.), the Appalachian attitude says, “I’m gonna make the boots myself, and if I get blisters from pulling so hard on those straps, then so be it, but I’ll never ask anyone to help me.” I was raised not to ask for favors, not to owe anything to anyone, never to “be beholden.”
Beulah has got good intentions I know, and her and Curtis are so nice to take me in.
But it is a funny thing bout being beholden, once you get beholden to somebody you are likely to hate them a little bit although this does not make a bit of sense as they are just being nice. I have been thinking about Daddy and the time he said to Mister Brown, We will not be beholden. Now I see why. -Lee Smith, Fair and Tender Ladies (p. 158)
Call it the pride of poverty, if you want, but I didn’t want to owe anything to anyone. Until God showed me real humility.
Pride, as we know, is the opposite of humility. Last week, we defined humility as confidence in who I am in Christ and where I stand before God. Humility alleviates the need to grab things or attention for myself. Based on Philippians 2:3-4, humility means I choose to prioritize God’s glory over my own needs.
Here we come to the flip side of generosity: the receiving of gifts. A generous spirit leaves room for other people to be generous to me.
Sometimes it’s in God’s interest
that I receive gifts.
Sometimes it’s in God’s interest–because His priority is His glory–that I receive gifts (i.e. blessings) from another person. I must prioritize His glory over my own need to be self-sufficient and independent.
There’s an art to receiving gifts well, with humility and thankfulness. Even today, my first response is “No thanks,” but I’m learning.
- I’m learning I don’t always have to be in the position of power, always be the giver.
- I’m learning I don’t have to “owe ya one” when you do something to help me.
- I’m learning I can be grateful without hating you a little bit, as Lee Smith wrote.
- I’m learning to look for God’s glory more than my own strength.
- I’m learning unity in the body of Christ requires give-and-take, not just giving.
- I’m learning the reciprocal aspect of “love one another” (John 13:34-35).
- I’m learning to say a simple “thank you” and let it be.
When we refuse the gifts of others, we deny blessing in their lives as well as our own. How can blessing flow through and soak into others (remember the ditch analogy from last week) if I refuse to receive?
God intends for us to help each other. Consider Paul’s example with the Philippians.
Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. … I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:17-18
Share the experience of blessing
that comes from giving.
Paul didn’t actually need what the Philippians sent, but he received it gratefully. But even if had needed those things, the giving and receiving were never about Paul. The Philippians weren’t sacrificing to Paul. They were offering a sacrifice to God by giving to Paul. Paul’s need created an opportunity for them to be generous, which helped them develop spiritually, trusting God to supply their own needs even as God used them to supply someone else’s. Can you see this attitude as one of generosity? He wanted to share the experience of blessing that comes from giving.
The gracious receiving of gifts demonstrates generosity of spirit, that we want others to experience the blessing of giving that we’ve also known.
What do you think? Have you known people who received well? Could you see the spirit of humility and generosity in their lives? How does this post challenge you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!