For many years I found it terribly difficult to receive gifts. There was a perpetual sense of unworthiness and even a nagging feeling that I had to do something to earn them which made this basic task very difficult. This was not a problem when I was a child. However, as my self-consciousness grew and as life’s many disappointments and blows came in rapid succession my innocence and natural ability to spontaneously receive crumbled.
Paul said in Romans 5:17 “…much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” And Jesus told us that we had to turn and become like small children to enter the kingdom of God. This explains quite succinctly why my first season as a believer was such a “disaster”.
From we were infants our parents gave us everything pertaining to life. Utterly helpless we were completely dependent on our parent’s care and gifts. We were experts on receiving. The idea that we had to merit their care didn’t exist. Moreover, we often demanded their attention and care without giving that issue a second thought. Naturally we moved in a realm of receiving and taking, because their possessions were evidently also ours.
There are some possessions which God owns that He has a strong desire to give His children. Those are: Abundance of grace, the gift of righteousness and the kingdom. He says that when we receive those gifts we will reign in life. Jesus told us that if we don’t have the mindset of a child we will reject the gifts on account of our inclination to think in terms of rewards. However, the law guarantees us that if we attempt to earn His gifts we are doomed to fail.
It wasn’t that God loved me less when I in my self-righteous fervor tried to deserve His gifts and favor. The simple and sad fact was that I was unable to recognize and accept His love, because I firmly believed I had to earn His approval and gifts. Of course that marked my life. If you believe you are serving a demanding and angry God, you become angry and demanding. That is definitely not reigning in life.
Man’s most important and basic faculty is to receive. Unable to receive we are distorted versions of our original design, and a distorted version will ultimately flounder. Jesus met and cared for a special group of people who found it very easy to receive His love and acceptance. They were the outcasts of society; prostitutes, leprous, tax collectors and their likes. So I guess those of us who think we are something in our own eyes are those who find it most difficult to receive His unconditional love.
I have learned the hard way to receive from my Father. His love had to break me first before I could turn and become like a little child. I am immensely grateful that His grace and love found the task of leading this man to repentance worth the effort. Well, He had made up His mind before the foundation of the earth when He proclaimed: “I will!” And His determined “I will” is like an unquenchable flood so my ability to receive is continually improving.