If, giving is compassion then receiving is humility. If, not giving is hostile then not receiving is resentment. CES
During Christmas, we hear the message of love, hope, and joy everywhere. We also keep showering ourselves with celebrations, parties, and fun, whenever possible and with whoever we can. Sometimes we may forget the seriousness, pain, and expectations of Christmas. We have four days to go, and, if not now, I may have to wait for another 12 months to talk about these things. Whatever I say in these next four days is not to find fault with, blame, or be pessimistic about any individuals or groups, but to highlight the importance of being mindful at Christmas, about few things.
Few days ago, I saw my wife, Rev. Sujanna, looking very sad and relentlessly reading the Bible. I asked her what’s happening and she said, ‘I am reading all the minor prophets because I am very depressed.’ I insisted on her telling me what was going on and she explained to me what really happened. I did not try to help Susan much on this because I know she will get through it, also because she is doing the right thing by reading the Minor Prophets. Nevertheless, as we are going through this persecution of exclusion for a while for doing God’s work, I couldn’t believe how easy it is to disvalue one’s friendship and their services. And so, I was wondering what is going wrong. Is it so hard to love and forgive people who care for us? And my thoughts on ‘why’ were led by the Spirit, like these….
Christmas has become all about giving, these days. Everybody wants to throw parties and have celebrations. We are willing to serve food for the homeless and become active in collecting things to be distributed to the poor. It is a good thing as Christians and as a family, but we may be forgetting about what it means, to be receiving and not receiving. Most of the time, we remember the things we give but not those we receive out of giving, because of the pride in our ‘I give’ attitude of giving. Sometimes we think we give because we are compassionate, and people receive because they are pathetic, and they are in need. This attitude of ‘I give’ can easily freeze us to unlove, disown, and even to go to the extent of hating somebody who received from us. It is as simple as this - if we don’t have love in our giving, we fail to see humility in the person who is receiving. In other words, giving is nothing if there is no love!
Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: 3, ‘If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’
As a pastor, I have received help from people, with humility, because I felt I am loved by them. Most of the time, I have received what people have given, not just because I needed it or even otherwise, but to make them feel happy and good and accept their love and friendship. Some of you may remember, whenever we went to serve the homeless, I used to tell people not to have the impression that we are giving food for them because they are hungry and helpless, but to come to love them as they are. I think most of our friends who have joined us in the last few months would agree that homeless people don’t just receive food from us, because they are hungry, but more importantly receive our love, which is their humility.
I understand that not giving is very bad, but not receiving is equally bad. As an employee of a hospital, I always feel bad when I have to say no to my lovely psych patients when they offer a hug or their paintings. I understand this is required in a lawful and corporate world. But, doesn’t the Bible speak the opposite? God loves us and offered Jesus to us, so, are we not to receive him? Jesus wants to receive from us too - does He not say, ‘come unto me’, ‘lean on me’, and, ‘love others as I have loved you?’
Please think of our parents, too. Do we intend to give to our parents as a charity? Do our parents receive from us because we are great and philanthropic? There is an element of love, humility, and sacrifice in both giving and receiving. So, I dare you to remember that giving and receiving is equally wonderful, loving, charitable, sacrificial, and unconditional, if it is based on the Love that is professed in Jesus Christ, the Giver and the Receiver.
Christmas is not just about giving, but also about receiving. Susan and I keep saying God has given us this challenge and you have received us and loved us. What else can we give back, but what all we know and have - CHRIST JESUS, but give Him truthfully and rightfully with the spirit of Christian love. Give to Receive <->Receive to give = Serve Christ! Clive E Samson