February 19, 2012

Receiving can be as Christ-like as giving

When my mother was alive, she was known as a giving person. She was generous, particularly in the area of hospitality. I remember many times how lunch started out for the family and ended up feeding a half dozen more people who dropped by just before noon. She made pies by the multitude and could cook a roast from frozen to delicious in no time. 
This attitude of giving has a downside. Givers have trouble receiving. When Mother lost her ability to remember many things and needed care, she had difficulty receiving that care from others. I often told her that she had cared for people for many years; now it was time to let them care for her. She finally accepted that, relaxed and enjoyed that care.

Last week a young woman in our church offered to come to our home and “help” me. My first thought was that I didn’t need any help, but quickly realized this was a spiritual fruit for her. It needed to be accepted, not so much for my sake but for hers. Then I thought about my mother and how she needed to learn to let others minister to her. This morning I realize why Christians need to let others do things for them. It is because Jesus did.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (John 21:9–12)
Jesus was pleased to eat the fish the disciples brought while they ate the fish that He contributed. This was a mutual meal, a “potluck” if you will. It illustrates what today’s devotional says, that the Lord wants us to minister to Him as well as to receive from Him, even that our service finds its true end when it becomes food for Him. 

This also illustrates the double banquet He speaks of when He invites wayward believers to open the door of their lives and let Him enter.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Eating with Jesus is about fellowship together. This Christian life is not a one-way relationship where needy sinners such as I come to Jesus and He does all the giving. He clearly says that He wants to eat with us, participate with us in the enjoyment of being together in the fruitfulness of that rich relationship.

In other words, when I come to God for the resources that I need to serve Him, He loves to give. Yet when I do that service, whatever it may be, He also deeply enjoys the results of my labor. It makes Him smile, even shout for joy. Jesus the Giver is also Jesus the Receiver!

Lord, for those of us who want to give without thoughts of personal gain, it is good to know there is a receiving that is not selfish. I’m positive that part of the joy of being served is that joy You feel simply because we are obedient and doing Your will. As parents delight in the child who follows their direction, You delight in us when we obey You. However, as parents delight in the child who brings them a small, even spontaneous gift, You also delight in that offering too — because of the love that prompted it. Sometimes I give because I know it pleases You and is like You. May I remember to receive for the same reason.

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