Learning to Receive Gifts

From Advent 4 to Christmas: Accepting God’s Gifts
Advent Week 4 Dec 22: Learning to Receive Gifts
Read Matthew 7:11, I Corinthians 2:12, Ephesians 2:8-9

“It is the active presence of God at the center of my living — the movement of God’s spirit within us — that gives us the eternal life.” (Henri Nouwen, Here & Now, p. 69)

When someone gives you a gift, do you ever feel embarrassed and protest, “You shouldn’t have…!”  How do you feel when someone says that to you?  It usually takes away some of the joy and pleasure from the act of giving.

Most of us often feel uncomfortable receiving gifts — because being the recipient of a gift means to be inferior, or less important, than the giver. We think we’re being modest if we protest the gift, but the effect is to diminish the importance of the giver, at least a little bit, even if unintentionally. It’s difficult to learn to say “thank you” humbly, graciously, and honestly — but how rewarding it is!

This concept is even more relevant in receiving God’s gifts: I am reluctant to admit and to give up my illusions of self-sufficiency. 

“It is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)”

 To receive God’s gifts, I must be able to give up being in control, being in power, being in the superior position of the giver.  I must be willing to accept the inferior position of being a recipient.  To receive God’s gifts I bow in reverence before God’s awesome power and holiness.  I must recognize God’s superiority and my dependence on God for my very life.

Prayer: Almighty, Eternal God, You are an awesome God!  Your holiness fills all that is. In you I live and move and have my being and apart from you there is no life of any kind at all!  It amazes me to know that you care for me. Thank you. I marvel in awe at your majesty and your love. Amen.


About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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