We are told it is better to give than to receive, and that is true. However, it is often harder for us to receive with as much compassion and joy as it is to give.
Why is that? I’m not sure, but I am willing to bet it’s because giving can be a power trip and an ego boost: the person giving is in a position of authority and strength greater than the one receiving. The one receiving, therefore, feels obligated to reciprocate at some point in the future.
It’s like the opening scene in The Godfather, when Don Corleone gets back at the men who attacked the Mortician’s daughter- then, when Sonny needed “repair” work after being shot to pieces, the Don called back this favor. The Mortician had no choice but to comply.
I have taught myself to accept gifts as graciously as I want to give them. I remind myself that I like to share the blessings God has given me, and the bible also says that God loves a cheerful giver (I think that really refers to giving to God, although Yeshua said what we do to the least of these, His brethren, we do to Him, so giving cheerfully to others is always good.) Remembering this fact helps me to be as gracious a receiver as it does a giver, allowing me to let the giver be cheerful and fully enjoy his or her ability to give.
What if the other person is really only giving to be on an ego trip? What if they expect something back? Then what do you do?
You do the same thing- you let them give you what they want to, accept it cheerfully and gratefully, and don’t worry or even think about why they are giving it to you. It doesn’t matter, in the least. Yeshua also said that if someone asks for a shirt, give him a cloak, too. If you are asked to carry a soldiers pack for a mile, carry it for two. We give not to receive, and we accept to let others give with the same godly purpose. If their purpose is not godly, then by receiving their gift without a sense of obligation, in a way, we give them the opportunity to know what it is like to give correctly.
We who are Believers do what we do to please God, not people. When we give, we give without expectation of reward or reciprocation. If you can’t do that, then it is better you don’t give at all. And when we receive, we should receive with the same sense of gratitude to God for providing the blessings we get, whether or not it comes from a human or is delivered by a dove flying in our window. If everything belongs to God, then it stands to reason that everything we receive is from God. Right? So, we accept gratefully and graciously, without guilt or need to reciprocate.
If someone gives something to you and expects to get something back, that’s their problem. If they get angry or tell you you owe them something back, if you can return what they gave you, do so. If it is not possible to return it, tell them you gave them back your appreciation and blessings for their generosity. Then it would be best not to accept anything else from them, if for no other reason than to not do anything to cause them to stumble into sin.
Sometimes I feel that people don’t accept God’s grace for the same reason they don’t want to take anything from people- they feel obligated to give something back. The truth is, we are expected to do something in exchange for the gift of salvation- we are expected to stop sinning. Salvation is available to everyone, but it isn’t really “free”: it costs us nothing to accept it but it does cost something to keep it. It costs us our sin because we need to change our way of living to remain saved. We need to do T’Shuvah and turn from our sin once we have accepted God’s Grace. We are expected to give back to God the obedience He asks of us in exchange for the salvation He offers us.
Salvation is not unconditional, and it is not free. And it is irrevocable; that means only that God will not ask for it back, but we can throw it away!
Salvation is not free. It cost Yeshua His divinity, and later His life. When we take on salvation, we are expected to give back to God the obedience He requires and to give up our sinful ways. There is a cost to us, and it is going to come from our worldly existence: friends, family, maybe even jobs, promotions, whatever the world sees as valuable we will probably not have the same opportunities to receive when we choose to live a godly life. In the End Days, accepting salvation and keeping it may cost us our very lives, just as it did Yeshua.
But when you think about what we will ultimately receive, we are still way ahead in this deal. In fact, life itself is just a mist: grass in the field that is alive today and dried out and dead tomorrow. Yet eternity is forever and ever and ever. Eternity has no end, so we receive eternal joy and peace and what we are expected to give back is, comparatively, really nothing.
In the long run, even though being a godly person in a sinful world is costly in many ways, salvation is so much more than anything the world can offer, it is still a gift.
It’s like when someone gives you a kitten or a puppy, you have an obligation to care for it and it will cost you to do so, but you get back so much more that it will always feel like a gift.
That’s what salvation is like, and that’s why we should accept everything we get as coming from God; as such, accept it graciously, gratefully, without guilt and always give without expectation of return.
The greater your cheerful giving (and receiving) on Earth, the greater will be your reward in heaven.