receive rather than give

There is nothing like the pounding of tiny feet coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. I am always wrapped up in the anticipation of the season because of that one sound and all the excitement that accompanies it. Kids tearing through wrapping paper; oohing and aahing over all the shiny new toys that Santa has delivered them. Relishing the gifts picked out and delivered with just them in mind. It really is so much fun. I am getting excited just writing about it. And we have all heard the adage it is “better than give than to receive”, but man do my kids make it look fun to receive. And let’s all admit it…we like getting stuff too. But sometimes we get so obsessed with the giving that we forget how to receive well. And I think this is problematic. Let me explain.

The very definition of our life in Christ is reliant upon our ability to receive His grace. 1 John 3:1 puts it this way, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Our very identity is based in the reception of the lavish love God has poured upon us in His gracious gift of redemption. And the title the writer of John then gives us: Children of God. Children…who receives gifts better than children? They get excited, wrapped up in the moment and it changes the way they view everything in regards to the giver. All of a sudden the giver of the gift becomes greater in the eye of the child. And shouldn’t this be the way we receive grace as well. God’s ultimate gift to us should change everything about us, even transforming us into the world of a child.

And this should be something that becomes part of our social interaction in the kingdom as well. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in giving that we forget how to receive well. And this really is tragic. By not receiving well we are robbing the giver of a full experience and we are ultimately robbing ourselves of participating in a divine exchange. We all should somehow embody the pounding of the little feet towards the gifts that await us in this coming season. After all, if we can receive those gifts well then maybe we learn to receive grace a little better as well. And I can’t help of think of God offering up the gift of grace like a father waiting downstairs for the kids to awaken and run down to the greatest gift ever given. I think this imagery gives full body to the lavishness of Grace. And so may we never lose the joy of receiving (rather than giving) this Advent season. It could just change the very way we live.

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