Ordinarily, in our Church relationships, we talk about the spirit of giving, and it is important to do this. But rarely do we hear any talk about the spirit of receiving. Very few people know how to receive graciously and freely. Very often our pride and our arrogance get in the way. We don’t want to be “obligated” to the person who is giving. “Oh, you shouldn’t have done this,” we say. Or, on occasions when gifts are mutually exchanged, the thought flashes through our mind, “Oh, my goodness, that’s more expensive than the gift I gave him. How will I ever make up for it?” Consequently, while we are receiving the gift outwardly, inwardly we are rejecting it. And we turn off the flow of love that might have been present, by refusing to allow the other person to experience the joy of giving.

A certain husband was acutely aware for many years of his wife’s intense desire to own a fur coat. This caused him considerable distress because he could not afford to buy her the coat. He loved his wife dearly and he wanted to please her. Finally, he decided to launch a private “fur-coat-buying-project.” He scrimped on his lunch money, saved in every way that he could. Two years later, he bought a fur coat—not one of the most expensive kind but a nice fur coat nevertheless. He gave it to his wife in an impressively wrapped box on her birthday. When she opened the box, she looked at the coat and, after a brief silence, said, “Oh Bill, how could you. You know how much we need a new living room sofa.” A little while later she said, “But it is nice, thank you,” But the damage already had been done. Two years of sacrificial love “frostbitten” by her insensitivity—her inability to accept a gift graciously.

Do we often act that way in our receiving? Are we sometimes too proud; or too arrogant; or too insensitive? Are we too practical to receive graciously and lovingly? Are we unwilling to be obligated? Or maybe we are too unwilling to be strong enough to let the other person do the giving.

Are you unwilling to allow the other person to experience the joy of giving? This lesson often comes hard and it often comes late.


Dr. Taylor A. McKenzie