We all know that phrase, God loves a cheerful giver, but something I’ve been encountering lately is the idea of being a cheerful receiver. It has come in the context of encountering people in our church who are using their various Spiritual gifts that God has given them. They are using these gifts to bless others in the church and community at large and I want to commend them for that. They are doing what is right and good in God’s eyes and using their gifts as they are intended to be used.
Alright, I’ll just come out and say it. You sometimes make me uncomfortable. There. Whew, it’s out there. Yes, in my secret and now not so secret heart of hearts I am uncomfortable sometimes when people bless me by using their Spiritual gifts for my benefit. Oh, I’m alright benefitting from the teaching/preaching/administrative gifts, those ones are alright. We all benefit from those gifts on Sunday from the pulpit and during the week at various church related activities, small groups, etc. And I am comfortable receiving those gifts. Maybe that has to do with the fact that those gifts are the ones I relate to most, teaching is one of my gifts. BUT, there are instances where people have blessed me with their Spiritual gifts and I don’t know what to do. One of these gifts is the gift of giving. I have been the privileged recipient of the offering of those who are gifted in this way. They have given freely and by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But, I don’t quite know what to do in these instances. In our society, it seems, that if we feel like we’re doing alright financially, emotionally, etc. then if someone offers us help in these areas, we decline. Well, because those resources should go to those who might really need it. I’m doing fine so, thank you, but no thanks. Why don’t you pass it on to someone who needs it? Another instance I experienced was while relating to someone with the gift of service. I was trying to manage 2 kids and a heavy load and this kind person rushed up and offered to carry the load for me. Well, my immediate response was to not want to put that person out. I was able to manage, just, so I didn’t need help, right?
What I realize is that by denying a person the opportunity to bless me with their Spiritual gift I am doing a couple of things. First, I don’t know what God is doing in that person’s life. Maybe God is guiding them through exploring their gifts and helping them grow in this new and wonderful way. Who am I to say to a person “I don’t need the offering of your gift?” Also, am I implying to that person that their gift is either not needed or that they have misread the Spirit’s prompting for them to use their gift to help another person? Pretty cocky, I’d say.
Maybe my hangup is with those gifts that seem outwardly to require more of a person than I’m willing to receive. For me, teaching is not a burden. I love using that gift. But, in the areas where God has not gifted me and has gifted others in abundance, am I reacting because these are areas that I find difficult and therefore assume they’re difficult for others? Why wouldn’t that person who carried that load for me not receive the same joy from using their gift as I do when teaching from a passage in the Bible?
God has created us all differently. I’m sure glad that not everyone in the church has the same gifts as me. It would make for a pretty boring and one-dimensional situation. And, one thing I’m learning and I think is a very valuable lesson is that seeing others using their gifts in areas where we are weak can inspire us in those areas of our life. Seeing someone generously give to a Church’s capital campaign can inspire me and hold me accountable to my own giving. Seeing someone who is always ready to serve others should inspire me to be a more cheerful servant.
I believe God gave these gifts to show the fullness of what he desires for us and the Church. I see each of these gifts reflected in the life of Christ and I’m trying to see them in the everyday workings of my church. God gave me Spiritual gifts to bless others but he also gave others Spiritual gifts to teach me and show me his love and inspire me in the world around me. So, my cultural and social discomfort about ‘putting someone out’ aside, I’m trying to see the beauty in letting other people’s Spiritual gifts shine by being the grateful recipient of their obedience and willingness.